Saturday, December 17, 2011

BACK TO THE FULL MESSAGE OF CHRIST AND THIS NEW LIFE


CHRISTLESS CHRISTIANITY
A. Brother

“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus
to…the faithful in Christ Jesus
from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Eph. 1:1,2

“In love He predestined us to be adopted
as His sons through Jesus Christ
And He made known to us the mystery of His will…
which He purposed in Christ
to bring all things in heaven and on earth
together under one Head, even Christ.”
Eph. 1:4-10

The Father’s focus on Christ means our focus is to be on Christ.  Christ is the beginning and end of all creation.  He is God’s purpose, and should be our purpose. 

If we have truly been “born again” by the Spirit of God, it is because of Christ, and we no longer live, but Christ lives in us.  We are to changing daily into the image of Christ, having the mind of Christ, exhibiting the fruit of Christ’s life in our character, and following in His footsteps to Gethsemane on to Golgotha each day carrying our crosses, dying to self, being transformed by the power of God into New Men and New Women.

This was the “full message of this new life” (Acts 5:20) carried into homes, businesses, synagogues, temples, public venues, and by all means possible by the apostles and other disciples.  Their message was all about Christ.  His preeminence, His supremacy.

Today, we suffer the neglect of Christ within our churches, and among our most prominent teachers and preachers.  These men and women talk about so many things.  They give us words and words, by the millions, and lots of “talk time”, and lots of “face time” with them.
We see them in bookstores, their faces large and smiling on the covers of their newest books.  We see them on television, pacing and gesturing, giving out their newest and greatest thoughts. 

They talk about…God.  They talk about the “Christian life”.  They talk about being positive, and getting hold of God’s promises.  They quote all our favorite positive Scriptures.  They have a new thought, a new angle, an interesting story, a powerful anecdote.  They give us their newest approach to living the Christian life in a more effective way.

Yet, how does this resemble, even in the least, the “full message of this new life” we have been given in Scripture?

We have a watered down, baby version of this message, with lots of human psychology and the best marketing thrown in.  They bring us a “Christless Christianity”.  It has the appearance of wisdom, the appearance and sound of Christianity, but it is just form without substance, without power.  We have known so many of these ‘prophets of profits’ over the last 100 years in America.  Just go to your local Walmart book section and see their faces dominate the “Inspirational Book” section.  They are where they are because they preach a gospel of compromise.  Popularity among the masses is strong assurance that they have left the Christ who was rejected by the masses.  They have focused on the wrong things.

“But even if we or an angel from heaven
should preach a gospel other than
the one we preached to you,
let him be eternally condemned!...
Am I now trying to win the approval of men,
or of God?  Or am I trying to please men?
If I were still trying to please men,
I would not be a servant of Christ.”
Gal. 1:9,10

These people, and there are dozens and hundreds of others who could be put on the list, may have the best intentions in the world. But their intentions are meaningless according to Scripture, because they all share one thing in common.  They have preached either just a part of the “full message”, thereby crippling and keeping in immaturity many Christians, or they have preached a Christless Christianity, which focuses on using human psychology coupled with Christian principles from the Bible to give us new ways of living. 

Some have preached a Christ who is undemanding, one who never threw the moneychangers out of the temple, and who never talked about giving up one’s own life to gain Christ.  Many have never talked about the Narrow Gate, or the hard road of life with Christ, or the dying to self, or the suffering we must go through to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.  Others have focused on what they call the “promises of God”, and His obligation to keep us safe, shelter us from the storms of life, and bring us prosperity for our faithfulness.

God’s message has never changed.  Look at Paul writing to the Ephesians.  The entire letter is about Christ.  God’s purposes in Christ, our calling in Christ, the Church’s purpose in Christ, and how Christ is the focus of all creation.  How Christ’s coming again will fulfill all the Father’s work with us.  Not a hint of human psychology.  Not a hint of personal marketing or glorification of Paul’s ministry or life.  He was all about Christ, and Christ’s all-sufficient power within to heal us, to help us, to empower us to live godly lives in this present evil age.  Paul taught Christ to us, and we must listen.  All the New Testament is the Christ message, and has no resemblance to much of our modern babbling.

Brothers and sisters:  Christ is to become our focus again!  We must stand for Christ, not for Christianity.  We must be willing to leave our comfortable teachers, our soft pews, and our positions of prominence among the so-called churches, and teach and preach and bring the Word of God any way we can to God’s people.  We must stand up where we are and demand that those who claim to speak for Christ speak about Christ!

Seek Christ today, and His Word.  Find those who are preaching and teaching the uncompromised, Christ-focused Way, which the original apostles and disciples died for.  Jesus Christ will help you Himself, and give you all you need as you learn with Him. 

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