Bible Ballistics: Going to, or Being the Church? Vol. 5 #01
I heard a great message this morning about something that is very dear to my heart—the church. It reminded me of something that I believe and teach often; that ‘going to church doesn’t make you a Christian’, any more than ‘standing in a garage, makes you an automobile’!!! Many are often distracted and deceived about what makes us right with God. We are called to ‘be’ the church within and without of the fellowship of believers. Jesus told a religious leader in John 3 that ‘being’ born again was more important than his ‘religious’ standing amongst other religious people.
What is it that makes us right with God? What I do or what I be (not good grammar but a good example)?
John 3:3-7, “Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. 4 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? 5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.”
Jesus declared to Nicodemus three times that a person MUST be ‘born again’. Not ‘do’ a new birth, but ‘BE’ born again. How?
John 1:11-13, “He came unto his own, and his own received him not. 12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: 13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”
We are made right with God by being given God’s power to ‘become the sons of God’ by believing in Jesus, His atoning death, burial and resurrection for my sin!!! When we turn to Jesus in repentance (admitting that our way won’t save us) and faith (believing HIS blood will save us) we are ‘born again’ by God. Not by blood (who we come from), not by strength of will (me doing enough to make it so), and not of anyone else’s willing it to be so (by power, money, influence or any other fleshly means). So, it is completely a supernatural work of God that makes me ‘become’ a son/daughter of God.
Therefore it’s not what I do, but who I ‘BE’ (not good grammar but you get the point) in Jesus that makes me right with God and a part of HIS kingdom.
1 Corinthians 15:57-58 also says, “But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.”
Let’s consider a couple of points here; we are to remember that our victory (in anything) is ‘through our Lord Jesus Christ’—not in or of ourselves– not by good works, fame, fortune or worldly power. It’s from our God, through the blood of Jesus and applied to us individually by the work of the Holy Spirit. We’re not asked to ‘do’ steadfast, but to ‘BE’ “steadfast, unmoveable… abounding in the work of the Lord…” In the Lord—not of ourselves.
Philippians 2:12-14 gives us a little twist to this principle. While these verses call us to work, they don’t call us to work on our own.
“Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. 13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. 14 Do all things without murmurings and disputings:”
How am I to ‘work out’ my own salvation, and ‘do all things’ without complaint? By understanding that God is ‘doing’ the work, that I’m not earning salvation but seeing God working IN me and revealing HIS work to the world. We can see this same idea in a passage most are familiar with. Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us that our salvation is by grace through faith, but many don’t go on to read verse 10. Let’s look at verses 8-10:
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”
Spiritual birth makes me become ‘his workmanship’. Created in Jesus and now we–
ARE His workmanship–
IN Christ Jesus—
UNTO good works—
TO walk in HIS good works.
Our works — the evidence to the world of what God has done, and is doing inside of us. We are to ‘be the church’ to the world, NOT just ‘go to church’ to make ‘brownie points’ with God.
So, are you just ‘going’ to church? Or are you ‘being’ the church? Only you can answer that question. My prayer is that God will reveal Himself to you, and yourself to you, that you may truly know the answer to these questions.