A CHRISTIANS REFLECTION

As part of the Spiritual Concerns Committee, I struggle with understanding how anyone, who has obeyed the Gospel, can treat it lightly or even go on and fall away from the Lord's church.

I was putting together a letter for someone whom I was concerned about and realized it would be a wonderful basis for a lesson. I've called it "A Christians Reflection".

For those of us who are member's of the Lord's Church, I think it behooves us to ask ourselves these 6 questions every now and again:

1st WHY WAS I BAPTIZED?

Most of us probably studied with someone who showed us the Lord's plan of salvation. We might have thought we were saved, nice and cozy in our denominational "faith only" world, but then some meddling person started prodding us to see what the Bible actually teaches, instead of what men teach.

We read versus such as:

Acts 2:38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

1Pe 3:at the end of vs 20-21 20)- - - wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. 21) The like figure whereunto [even] baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:

We read them over and over, along with so many other verses, wondering how we, or millions of others, could be so blind to the mode and necessity of baptism. So we submitted to what we so obviously saw as God's will and were baptized into Christ by being immersed into a body of water - just like the Bible says.

2nd WHAT DID MY BAPTISM DO?

This, in and of itself, could be a sermon of immense importance. However, I believe we can answer our question satisfactorily in just a few minutes of time, with just a few scriptures and comments. Let's start by looking at:

Rms 6:3-6 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? 4) Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
5) For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: 6) Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.

These verses really expose what takes place in Christian baptism. We see how we died and participated in the Lord's death and burial. We see how we were then raised up a new creature - born again! Our old sinner self was crucified, destroyed that we should not serve sin.

Another convicting verse is:
Gal 3:26-27 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. 27) For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.

We put on Christ at the moment of our baptism. We applied his cleansing blood and were made righteous by wearing his righteousness.Turn with me to Mat 22:1-13.
1) And Jesus answered and spake unto them again by parables, and said, 2) The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son, 3) And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come. 4) Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and [my] fatlings [are] killed, and all things [are] ready: come unto the marriage. 5) But they made light of [it], and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise: 6) And the remnant took his servants, and entreated [them] spitefully, and slew [them]. 7) But when the king heard [thereof], he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. 8) Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy. 9) Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage. 10) So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests. 11) And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: 12) And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. 13) Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast [him] into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Do you see the connection? Do you see the importance? We put on Christ in baptism. We are clothed in Christ. If we are not properly clothed on the day of judgment, we shall perish into outer darkness.

Our baptism added us to God's church:
Acts 2:41,47 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. 47)Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.

Our baptism added us to Jesus' kingdom:
Col 1:13-14 Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: 14) In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:

Through baptism, we went from darkness, a place of no hope, into the light, a place of eternal hope, the everlasting kingdom of Christ. Why would you want to be anywhere else? Read these versus again slowly - let them sink in.

3rd WHAT DOES GOD EXPECT OF ME?

God has been so merciful to us, does he expect anything from us?
Many say NO.
Many say once saved always saved.
Many say requirements and works frustrate God's grace.
Many say this and that, but not so the Bible. God's word says we must DO many things.

Rev 2:10 Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast [some] of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.

What's that Lord? We must do something? BE THOU FAITHFUL! What does this mean? Turn with me to 1Sam 2:35 And I will raise me up a faithful priest, [that] shall do according to [that] which [is] in mine heart and in my mind: and I will build him a sure house; and he shall walk before mine anointed for ever.

The dictionary says of faithfulness: trusted, reliable, true.

Through our baptism, we have made a covenant, a promise if you will, to be true to God. To be true to God is to obey Him!
Jhn 14:15= If ye love me, keep my commandments.
Heb 5:9= And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;


See her also in Mth 7:21-23= 21) Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22) Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23) And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
So we see we must remain faithful. Even when times are hard - hold on!

What else is expected of us? Let's look at:
Heb 3:12-14 Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. 13) But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. 14) For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end;
I want to look at three key thoughts here. "Take heed", "exhort", and "hold stedfast".

Take heed is to "beware", "be on guard", or "earnestly contemplate".
We must constantly be on guard against apostatizing.

"Departing" here in verse 12 comes from the Greek word that we get our word apostasy from. If we drop our guard and become complacent in our commitment to Christ, then it stands to reason a heart of unbelief will develop in us that will eventually lead to a hardening of the heart, and a falling away from our faith.

In vs 13 the Hebrews writer gives us a tool to work with in our quest to be on guard, and that is to exhort one another.
To "exhort" is to encourage and strengthen. Note the timetable of DAILY. This is serious business, as today is, but tomorrow may never be.

In verse 14 we see the smallest word in the world, "if". Why is it the smallest? Because millions of people cannot see it in the Bible.

If = conditions. And conditions scare people. People tend to shy away from things they are scared of.
This verse in and of itself should be enough to convince people that we must DO something to be saved. Here, it is a matter of holding on to the beginning of our confidence. What is that confidence? It is trusting in the promises of God. It is "faith in the operation of God" Col 2:12.
Belief that is of a saving nature, and saving faith, are the doing of God's will. Doing God's will is faithfulness. We must be faithful unto death.
This is all reinforced and expounded upon in: Heb 10:22-27 Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. 23) Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)24) And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: 25) Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. 26) For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, 27) But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.

I want to draw your attention to verse 25. If you love God, if you want to be saved, if you want to be faithful, if you want to go to heaven, but you forsake the assembling of the church, would you mind telling me how you can justify that in light of these verses from God's word? Remember one day you will be judged by these words (Jhn 12:48)!
Be faithful - Take heed - Exhort - Hold fast!!!

4th WHAT IS THE COST OF SALVATION?

It cost God his only begotten son (Jhn 3:16).
It cost Jesus horrendous suffering and then his very life (Mth 27:35-46).
It costs us everything:

Lk 9:23= And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.

The ultimate sign of servitude and submission was the cross of Christ. Jesus called himself The Son of Man. This is a reference to his being the Messiah, but, I also think it denotes his position as a servant of man.
He also was the Son of God. And as the perfect son he submitted to the Father's will and became the ultimate sacrifice.
Serving man, serving God, Jesus bore the sins of all men and satisfied the justice of his Father when he died on the cross.
As we evaluate the cost of salvation, we see here in LK 9:23 that we are to do no less. We must deny self and then go on to serve man and God.
Seeing this then let us consider this next verse:

Lk 9:62 And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.

Picture yourself in control of a plow, horse drawn or tractor powered doesn't matter, your field is very long but you do have some trees at each end. Once you start plowing, you need to keep focused on a tree, or some other landmark, as a goal to make for or else you will get off course and you will have a very funny looking field when you are done.
Once we are committed to Christ, we must not look back. We must keep our eyes on him to reach our goal (Heb 12:2).

Some followers of Christ commented in the book of John on some hard sayings of Jesus. One such hard saying which many tend to ignore today is found in:
Mth 10:34-39= Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. 35) For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. 36) And a man's foes shall be they of his own household. 37) He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38) And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. 39) He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.

One cost of following Christ, is the severing of relationships. If you have to choose between any person, regardless of who that person is, and following Jesus, you must choose Jesus.

This short parable of Christ says it nicely:

Mth 13:45-46 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls:
46) Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.

5TH HOW DO I KNOW I AM ON THE RIGHT PATH?

To know something for certain is to have something to check against or to compare to. Many religious folk claim they know they are saved by the way they feel, or because of some "religious experience". Some even base their salvation on how there life is going and how God has blessed them in material things.
The one and only standard is the Bible.
Jhn 8:32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
Jhn 17:17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
1Peter 1:23-25 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. 24) For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: 25) But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.

Therein do I put my trust. The word of God is all we need (2Tim 3:16-17). Paul stated in Gal 1:8-9 that even if an angel from Heaven preach any other Gospel - we are not to listen!
There is absolutely, positively, no other revelation needed, or to be given, than that which has all ready been given in the Bible.
Beware you do not follow Man!
Mth 15:8-9 This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. 9) But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.
Mth 15:13-14 But he answered and said, Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up. 14) Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch. Acts 5:29 Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.

A powerful verse concerning this is:
2Jhn 1:9-11 Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. 10) If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: 11) For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.

To abide, is to stay, continue in, or remain. Doctrine here is the complete teachings of Christ. Are you continuing in the complete teachings of Christ? If so, then you know you are on the right path.

We CAN know we are saved. Turn with me to 1Jhn 2:3-6 3)And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. 4) He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5) But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him. 6) He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.

6th WHAT CAN I LOOK FORWARD TO?

* You have been scripturally baptized - understanding it's necessity and function.
* You have done your best to submit to God's will and live your life accordingly.
* You have counted the cost and pressed on faithfully.
So what can we expect? What can we look forward to? PROMISES!
We have the promises of God. These differ from the promises of man. Man breaks promises. We all have. God does not. God never has.
1Cor 1:9 God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.
Titus 1:2: In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;

Remember Rev 2:10 Where Jesus talks about being faithful unto death and we will receive a crown of life? That's a promise!
Let's also look at:
Rev 3:5 He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.
That's a promise! Notice how this ties in nicely with the wedding garment we talked about earlier in the parable of the marriage feast in Math 22.

So as we wind this lesson down, let us consider 2 more verses:
1Cor 10:12 Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.
2Pet 1:10 Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:

I implore you to take this lesson to heart. We must constantly be on guard against falling away. Nothing in this universe can separate us from God except ourselves. Truly we can be our own worst enemy.

Are you right with God. Right now, right this minute, do you know, nothing doubting, that if you died right now that you would go to heaven?

If you have any questions or would like a bible study, please feel free to contact the Susquehanna Valley Church of Christ 200 Roosevelt Ave Selinsgrove Pa 17870 Phone 570-743-1533

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