Living Our Religion

Dear Brethren,

Do we sometimes stop and realize that we, as Spirit led Christians, have exactly what this world desperately needs?  Through His Spirit, God gives us the ability to begin to live our lives according to the life and principles of Jesus Christ.  Without His Holy Spirit, no one is able to live a Godly life.  We do not have to wait for Jesus to establish the Kingdom of God on the earth - we are to live as though we were already in God's Kingdom.

"By his own blood He [Jesus Christ] entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us... How much more shall the blood of Christ [purify us], who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, purge [our] conscience from dead works to serve the living God?"   (Hebrews 9:12, 14)

Having been given a measure of God's life and power, a tremendous responsibility has been placed upon us.   What is that responsibility?  What does God require of us?  What criteria will He follow when deciding who will be in His Kingdom, and who will not?  What indicates to Jesus Christ that we are living our Christian lives the way he wants us to?

Let's understand this:  We can know the Holy Days, the Commandments, right Doctrine, and the Scriptures, but we only begin to draw near to God when these holy things have effected a transformation of our lives.  We do not gain salvation by learning about all the wonderful works of the Bible.  It is a matter of living the principles of God, to the extent that we grow and develop in the likeness of God.  "We shall be like Him who dwells in the high and holy place, with Him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit."  (1John 3:2, Isaiah 57:15)

Our primary responsibility on this earth is to serve Jesus Christ by serving others.  "And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."  (Matthew 25:40)  We must always be doing everything within our power to help others to attain the Kingdom of God.  We are warned that God's Church goes to sleep just before the return of Christ.  Have we begun to believe that the only thing we need to do is be in a comfortable church with promises of deliverance?  Do we think that personal sacrifice is not needed?  Paul put it this way:

"Brethren, I beseech you therefore by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service... that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God."  (Romans 12:1-2)

Would Jesus Christ ask us to do something He wasn't willing to do Himself?  Actually, He demonstrated for us what it would take to be in His Father's Kingdom.  "For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:"  (1 Peter 2:21)  So it is profitable for us to contemplate the state of the Church today and what our responsibilities, as part of the spiritual body, are.

Large numbers of people were converted during the early days of the church, and they were given the Holy Spirit upon repentance, and upon being baptized.  Please note the following description of the early church's attitude:  "And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God, and having favor with all the people…"  (Acts 2:46-47)

We don’t see any competition here due to differences in nationality, gender, economic status or any other reason.  "One accord, and singleness of heart," indicates that they were willing to overlook differences of opinion in order to enjoy profitable fellowship.

But have we noticed how, throughout the "Churches of God" today, we see anything but "one accord, and singleness of heart"?  People in one group often treat those from other groups worse than infidels.  What we are seeing is the fulfillment of the prophecy in Matthew 24:12, that "the love of many shall wax cold."

Many brethren have unwittingly accepted a "corporate mission" to preach via television or literature - directing the lion's share of their efforts into those programs – but they leave the widows and scattered brethren to fend for themselves.  Some brethren now believe their Christian responsibility amounts to little more than identifying and defending the correct corporate entity.  Unfortunately, some church leaders discourage their members from fellowshipping with people from other groups.

So how does God look at all this?  Jesus Christ has only one Body - One Church!  God does not recognize corporate boundaries, but looks on the heart.  He regards all who have his Spirit, as His children.  He loves them and continues to have a relationship with those who maintain their relationship with Him.

What should our attitude be during this time of scattering and hostility among "the brethren"?  First of all, let’s remember that all who have and are led by God’s Holy Spirit are the Children of God – not just those within our immediate fellowship.  As we endeavor to keep ourselves doctrinally sound, let's be sure we are actually living our religion and faith.  Often, the only way we can be an example and serve those who may have fallen into doctrinal error, is by living the principles of Jesus Christ.  Are we able to help turn around a brother who has shown unchristian behavior?  We are our brother's keeper.  They, like us, remain God’s Children as long as they still have God’s Holy Spirit.  Let’s actively treat them as brethren and keep them in our prayers.  And let’s do our very best to take care of the "household of faith" - especially, those who are scattered, homebound, or needy.


Sermon:  "Living Our Religion"