Who’s Doing The Work?

Who is responsible for your maturity in Christ? Is it all about you and your obedience or is all the Holy Spirit’s doing?

Do you have days when you feel you’ve done nothing but blow it as a Christian? You haven’t loved well, you ran out of patience, you didn’t think about God for an instant.

What does God think of you when you’re in that condition?

“Return to your baptism everyday,” Luther said. Remember you died in Christ, were buried in him, and were resurrected in him. All your sins are forgiven and washed away. God sees them no more.

Paul would say,

“For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him.” – Romans 6: 5-7

You have been set free to live as a believer in Christ.

Before faith, you were a slave to sin. You couldn’t love or serve God. The only things you could do were to:

1) live in darkness

2) provoke God’s wrath

3) heap judgment on yourself

But God, who in his mercy called you from death to life, who gave you the gift of faith to believe in Christ and him crucified, now enables you to freely love and serve him.

You are a freed slave learning to live as a free man or woman in union to Christ.

How does this work out in daily living?

Justifying faith is God acting upon you – you are a passive recipient. He changed your heart, he made you capable of believing the gospel. You didn’t produce that yourself. You had no power.

Sanctifying faith is accomplished by the Holy Spirit who causes you to desire God and enables you to obey God. This new action will result in your good works.

You will produce fruit.

So if you’re worried about how you’re doing, don’t be. Looking inside your heart will demoralize you. It’s not pretty in there.

The solution is to keep looking to Jesus.

He’s the author of your faith, and to God who will give you everything you need to keep loving and serving him.

How Being Baptized Can Get You Killed

You’ve heard stories about the underground church in China. You’ve also read stories about Christians who have risked their lives for the gospel in foreign countries.

This is a true story that is a little closer to home. It’s from a man who teaches a bible study in a federal prison in Northern California.

“We had six baptisms today. We have a tank outside the church and they fill it up when we do baptisms. One white man and two black men and three Latino men were baptized. One of the inmates told me that these men’s faith was genuine. I asked him, ‘How do you know?’ He said, ‘Because they were all baptized in the same tank.’

“You see, in this prison, everything is segregated by race. Each race has its own shower and toilet, sink and place to eat. You never eat or shower at the other race’s area. It can get you stabbed or killed. These men, of different races, were being baptized in the same tank. That can get them in trouble with their own race group. All they really have now is the church body.

“In our day, and in our country, I never thought that a baptism could get you killed.”

Here is risk for the sake of the gospel.

Here is also a beautiful picture of how Christ tears down the separation of the races and creates one new race in himself.

Those who belong to Jesus Christ are now brothers with the same Father, who share in the same inheritance, and look forward to the same eternal destiny.