News and Views
IDENTITY IN CHRIST
We become new creations when we recognize the futility and wrong of continuing to live according to our own wills and do an about turn to accept Jesus' sacrifice for each of us as He died in our place on the cross. Becoming that new creation is both instantaneous and the beginning of a process as we grow in our ability to live with our wills aligned with God's will. The Bible states many aspects of our new identity in Christ, but first I want to use C. S. Lewis' own words to summarize one of his ways of expressing the change in his book "Mere Christianity," the book which was instrumental in turning Chuck Colson to a new life in Christ.
C. S. Lewis wrote, "Everyone knows about Evolution (though, of course, some educated people disbelieve it)....people often wonder 'What is the next step? When is the thing beyond man going to appear?'....I cannot help thinking that the Next Step will be really new; it will go off in a direction you could never have dreamed of....the Christian view is precisely that the Next Step has already appeared....a change from being creatures of God to being sons of God....not mere improvement but Transformation....He [Jesus] meant what He said. Those who put themselves in His hands will become perfect, as He is perfect--perfect in love, wisdom, joy, beauty, and immortality. The change will not be completed in this life, for death is an important part of the treatment. How far the change will have gone before death in any particular Christian is uncertain."
When we humbly recognize our own wrong and need, and accept Jesus' death on our behalf, Ephesians 2:8 applies to us as Paul wrote, "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--not by works, so that no one can boast." (NIV) We then grow in relationship with God, grow in our ability to align our wills with God's will, and grow toward being our best unique selves. Our new identity in Christ is described in several ways.
We are new creations. "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" (2 Cor. 5:17 NIV)
We are children of God. "Yet to all who received him [Jesus], to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God." (John 1:12 NIV)
We are joint heirs with Christ. "Now if we are children, then we are heirs--heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ." (Romans 8:17 NIV)
We are saints. Paul wrote, "To the saints in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus." (Eph. 1:2 NIV)
We are temples, dwelling places of God the Holy Spirit. "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?" (1 Cor. 6:19 NIV)
We are citizens of heaven. "But our citizenship is in heaven." (Phil. 3:20 NIV)
We are fellow citizens with the rest of God's family. "Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Jesus Christ himself as the chief cornerstone." (Eph. 2:19-20 NIV)
We are living stones, a holy priesthood, a holy nation.... Peter wrote, "You also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ....But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.: (1 Peter 2:5,9 NIV)
Just imagine! In Christ, we are this privileged people, even though humans were created in God's image and became fatally flawed through their choice to rebel against God. In Christ, and only in choosing Christ, we are restored to intimate relationship with God as His children. All those who have accepted God's plan for reconciliation have the above identity elements and are part of God's family, of the Body of Christ on earth, of the universal church. It is membership in God's family, in the universal church, that counts. It does not matter what Christian church denomination or congregation we identify with, or if we ignore the institutional church. What counts is our relationship with God through Christ, and what a wonderful relationship that is, especially when we consider the personal identity which He confers upon us. As children of God, it is important that we obey Jesus when He told His disciples, "A new command I give you; Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." (John 13:34-35 NIV) This means loving everyone in the family of God, not only those in our own local church, denomination, or major division of the church. It is always wonderful when events bring together members of many parts of God's family to share in fellowship with each other and devotion to Him.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR GOD'S FAMILY TO GATHER
FAR EAST BROADCASTING will hold its annual dinner and presentation at 6:30 pm on October 18th at Calvary Baptist Church in Wetaskiwin. Far East Broadcasting is one of three major Christian broadcast networks which use radio to transmit the gospel all over the world, especially into areas where missionaries are not allowed to go and local Christians are persecuted. Two facts are important to remember relevant to this. First, although Christianity is growing the fastest it ever has, more Christian martyrs died for their faith in the 20th Century than in all of the 19 previous centuries combined. Persecution continues in this century. Second, radio is both an inexpensive and highly effective way to obey Jesus' command to "go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you." (Matt. 28:19-20 NIV) Radio ministries tend to expand to the internet, too.
The GIDEONS will hold their annual dinner and program at 6:30 pm on October 22nd at the Mission Church in Wetaskiwin. The Gideon mission is to make the Scriptures available to all people. Where allowed, they give them out in schools; otherwise on the public sidewalks in front of the schools. They put Scriptures in hotel rooms, in hospitals, and hand them out on the streets. Their work circles the globe. The responses to their work tell of the power of the Bible alone to change lives for the good, to bring people to Christ with little or no other witness.
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