3 October 2022
The epistles in the Bible often begin with clarification of doctrines, and the focus on understanding of the various areas of Christian life; the second half usually turns to practical applications and exhortations to live out the truths propounded in the first half.
When we come to the second half, and as we ponder over the various exhortations and encouragement to apply the truths in our lives, what do we really perceive, and how do we consider how these truths can apply to us in our daily outworking?
Do we turn our thoughts inward onto ourselves, our efforts, and our past dismal performance? We may pause and think that we will probably need to be more conscientious about obedience – but then we remember all our past failures, and despair and a feeling of being overwhelmed come over us, and we feel discouraged and confused – how can we ever be successful in obeying all these commands and exhortations in the epistles, although we know that they are right and need to be applied in our lives?
Overfamiliarity with the gospel and some accompanying misconceptions cause us to think that what is needed is getting our act together and exerting more efforts and discipline in trying to apply the truths in our lives – we lose the centrality of the cross and we turn to a religion of self-improvement and self- accomplishments.
The glorious gospel message is nothing less than Jesus’ accomplishments through His incarnation, sinless life, death, resurrection, and ascension; and when we respond in faith and repentance to the gospel and experience regeneration through the ministry of the Holy Spirit, we are born again – we are united with Christ and adopted as God’s children into His family with Christ as our elder brother! What happened to Christ happened to us and what belongs to Christ now belongs to us, for we are one in Him and He in us.
The Scripture is not a series of ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts” for believers: it is God’s revelation to us, His message to us to help us live the Christian life and to be conformed to the image of our Lord Jesus – the message is illuminated by the Holy Spirit, the third Person of the Trinity; He will teach us and also enable us to apply the truths He reveals to us.
If we forget that we are forgiven by God because of His Son’s sacrifice, we well see ourselves as slaves (instead of children) trying to earn God’s goodwill and make up for all our past failures rather than as forgiven children of God. We will be afraid to obey because we know we are bound to fail. We will be afraid to persevere because we know that we are doomed from the start – so why bother trying? We will be empty of the love for Him that is meant to motivate and fuel all our attempts at obedience (Matt. 25:26).
God’s disposition toward us is entirely different – we are His beloved in Christ – He is not simply tolerating us – in love, He, as the perfect heavenly Father, would patiently teach us, lead us, and lift us up to be what He desires us to be be, with the help of the Lord Jesus interceding for us and the Holy Spirit who lives within us to mould our lives to be ready for the new heaven and new earth.
As far as God is concerned, we are FAMILY.
Let us not be too over familiar with the gospel and push it to the back and periphery of our understanding, and allow misconception of the outworking of this glorious gospel to be hampered in our Christian lives.