Because we are in the Church of God, we are very different from the people in the world around us. We have a lot in common with the people Jesus preached to some two thousand years ago who had Moses’ teachings. When Jesus first came on the scene doing His public ministry – He came mostly to those of Jewish descent. They knew to keep the Sabbath Day; they made a distinction between clean and unclean foods; they knew to observe the feasts of the Lord – the annual Holy Days; They tithed on their increase; they knew the importance of keeping the Ten Commandments; they knew that they were the Covenant people; and they anticipated the promise of the return of the Messiah to establish the Kingdom on the earth.
Jesus came among those people of Palestine and He began to build on that earlier foundation. Many followed Him and He instructed them. What He taught them was over and above what they already knew. They were called disciples of Christ. When Jesus came into their midst they were not yet converted Christians.
Today, we too, keep the Sabbath Day; we make a distinction between clean and unclean foods; we observe the feasts of the Lord – the annual Holy Days; we tithe on our increase; we keep the Ten Commandments; we realize that we are Covenant people; and we eagerly look for the return of the Messiah to establish God’s Kingdom on the earth. We have been given all these things, but does that make us Christians? Why do some people believe that these things make us New Testament Christians? For many brethren in church groups, that list represents their depth of understanding and commitment. They remain as unprofitable servants, and are not yet friends of Jesus Christ. Notice how Jesus puts it:
“So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.” (Luke 17:10)
There is so much more to being a converted Christian and a friend of Christ. As our Savior, Jesus makes it possible to have a growing relationship with the Father. That is what the New Covenant is all about – a covenant relationship with God. What is required of us? Our Christianity is so much more than the list mentioned above. Jesus does not keep us in the dark with regard to what He expects of His New Testament disciples.
“This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. No longer do I call you servants; for the servant knows not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.” (John 15:12-15)
What was it that Jesus taught that the people of His day had not heard until He began his ministry? It was volumes and volumes of how we are to spend all of our lives striving to become like Him. The apostle John finishes his writings with the comment – “I wasn’t able to get it all written down.”
“There are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written.” (John 21:25)
John was expressing the thought that the teachings of Jesus were comprehensive in nature, and that they covered the vast realm of everything we are to become. Everything written in the Bible is for the purpose of directing us to Christ and His Father. We strive to be like Him.
“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 2:5)
It is necessary that we strive with all our might to put on every attribute of Christ. But, how do we put on the mind of Christ? How do we begin to think as He thought? How do we see things the way He perceives them? How do we render judgment as He judges? As Disciples of Christ we have so much to change and overcome in ourselves. And, that is after our initial repentance, faith and conversion. Obedience to God’s law is the evidence and substance of our faith.
“He has shown thee, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” (Micah 6:8)
Baptism is our pledge of burying the old man of sin. Thankfully we have a token of God’s Holy Spirit given to us so that we do not have the same limitations and weaknesses that the men of the Old Testament did in living according to God’s will.
“Finding fault with them, [God] said, Behold, the days come, says the Lord, when I will make a New Covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah.” (Hebrew 8:8)
The men of the Old Testament knew what it was that God required of them, but without His Spirit they were unable to please God. We, however, have had our sins forgiven, and we have entered into the conditions and stipulations of the New Covenant. We are New Covenant Christians, and disciples of Christ. As such, our lives must improve demonstrably. We forgive one another and become Christ like; kind, and tenderhearted. Do we see this way of thinking exhibited across the board in the churches of God?
“Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.” (Colossians 3:12-13)
Jesus said, “You are my disciples if you continue in my word.” (John 8:31)
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