Sin and the Church pt3

                                                        

The Church has wandered a long time in a wilderness of its own making.  The beliefs it clings to have nothing to do with the Gospel, but rather are carefully honed arguments to give a sort of hope concerning God’s love and judgement.  The beauty of these arguments of faith, which the Church sits in, are that they all remain incontestable.  Your only evidence as to their veracity is when you die and arrive at the Lord’s feet with your certificates of faith.  Let’s hope they are genuine!

But the evidence that the Gospel speaks of, and the early Church resonated with, was the power of an incorruptible love shed abroad in their midst.  The proof of the argument was the divine life in them.

God’s call is without repentance.

Baptism is an appeal to God.  The baptism of John was a preparation for the ministry of Jesus, it was not an entering into His life so much as an invitation to do so.  John was raised up to prepare the way and Jesus was the way.  The Father from Heaven spoke, “This is my beloved Son, listen to Him.”

Entering His life was contingent then upon hearing every word and acting on them.  He spoke but not everyone heard.  He spoke in parables, “Lest they see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their heart and repent.”

All of His words challenged the way ‘religious’ men live.  He spoke with a power and authority that they, their parents, their elders, their teachers and leaders never lived.  Yet they had witnessed over the centuries the prophets, sent by God, who had lived with a purity and purpose that they had never accomplished, and they revered them in much the same as the Church through the ages has treated the Saints.

Many were baptized in preparation for Jesus, few were saved.

“Baptism”, Peter says, “is an appeal to God for a cleansed conscience toward Him.”  So rather than baptism being the establishment of faith, it is merely a step along the way, for a man has to work out his salvation in fear and trembling.

“Present yourself as a living sacrifice which is your rational service of worship,” says Paul.  The hunger of our hearts toward the challenge of knowing Him and growing into His image defines the reality of our faith, not the doctrines of the Church, officiated by worldly men with diplomas and ambitions.

So the call of God remains sure and strong and few are chosen, so make sure of His choosing you!

There is a growing into Him, a dawning light, a deepening knowledge of His way, a deeper love of Him, not just that He loves you but, more deeply, that you love Him.  This is the call, for the purpose of our call is not to merely feel that we are loved but to go on to perfection, and this is perfection that you know the Father who is seeking men to worship Him in Spirit and in truth.

How can a sinful man have fellowship with a sinless all powerful God?  Something deeper than reciting the sinner’s prayer must be at work in our hearts, something more fearful than an altar call must fill our hearts as we strive to be fit for a Holy encounter with Him.

“He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire,” John the Baptist said.  “Our God is a consuming fire,” Paul proclaims.  “Abide in me,” Jesus says.  So to dwell in God we must be cleansed of all unrighteousness, clothed in Christ, in whom no sin dwells.

Who in the Church knows this, or even aspires to it?  And unless you know the way to life, how can you help the perishing?  For until you yourself are abiding you also are perishing!  How can you preach the gospel if you don’t know Christ?  How can you truly know Him unless you too dwell in Him, filled with the fire of His love?

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