It's important to say the right things. Today there is so much said at once and so much of it is wrong. Communication is important and so it is important to say what is clear and correct. It is also important however, that if you are going to talk the talk you must walk the walk. As a preacher I talk a lot. I study and pray so as to say that which is in keeping with my faith and the word of God. If my actions however do not back up my words then all I am doing is making noise. Yes its true that the Spirit can and does still work despite my imperfections, and it because I am imperfect that I must point people to a perfect savior just as I must be pointed to a perfect savior. Having said all that it is still important that I strive for my actions to always match up with my words. I have recently found that this is more difficult to do than to say. One example is that it's easy to say that we should think of other people more than we think of ourselves. This is a good Christian principle coming from the second greatest commandment, and from numerous verses in the Bible. For a long time I thought this principle just meant being nice people, asking them how they were doing, and opening the door for them, and giving money to those who truly needed it. While all these things are good, they are not indicative to the concept of putting others above self. For believers putting others before one's self has its true meaning when it involves sacrifice. There is nothing wrong with being nice to people and getting the door, but it does not cost much. There will be times in our lives when thinking of others will cause us to have to sacrifice and it is during these times that we are more conformed to the image of Christ. Some times it could that we have to sacrifice our free time in order to comfort someone in times of trouble. Some times it could mean sacrificing something that you wanted to buy because you are spending real money to helps somebody out. Some times it could sacrificing your pride and desires by not saying something that while true, would not help the situation and would hurt the one you love. Love requires sacrifice, which is one of the reason I believe God instituted the family. It takes sacrifice if one is going to be in a family and as any parent will tell you, when the child comes it is all about that child and your thoughts and desires come second. That is sacrifice. Sacrifice is not something that is pleasant. It means putting yourself second which is something no one really wants to do. This is why love is one of the fruits of the Spirit. The scriptures tell us, "Greater love has no one than this; to lay down one's life for one's friends." John 15:13. There is a great video from the Christians who are being persecuted by ISIS stating that they will lay down their lives so that the ones taking them can hear the gospel. Perhaps the reason that many Americans are not seeing the love of Christians is because Christians in America are unwilling to really sacrifice in order demonstrate the love of God to unbelievers. I do not wish to make generalizations as I have witnessed many Christians sacrificing much out of their love for others and the church and of course God, but I believe there are many Christians like me who will only love so long as that love is not too costly. This is not a Christian attitude and reveals a lack of love within the heart. If you find that this is your attitude I invite to reflect upon the love that was shown to you by Jesus. Jesus, "who being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bound servant, and coming in the likeness of men. and being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even death of the cross." Philippians 2:6-8. When we think about the love and mercy God has shown us we should reflect that love in the treatment of others, and if we are to truly show God's love to the world, then love must be like God's, which means it must be sacrificial. Of course it's easy to talk the talk, God help us to walk the walk.
As Christians we are called to repent of our sins, and to trust in Jesus Christ for forgiveness of sins. In conversations I've had with people there has been some confusion on this and so I wanted to take this time to address it. There are those who claim to be Christian yet they are unrepentant of certain sins in their life and so the question if they really are a Christian comes up. Now this is a complicated subject because we are dealing with people's hearts and because even Christians who repent of their sins still find themselves caught up in sin. There is also the aspect of salvation through faith alone that must be considered. So in order to deal with the least amount of confusion I will start first from salvation. We are saved by the grace of God through the power of the Holy Spirit which works in our heart upon us hearing the gospel of being forgiven through the death of Jesus. It regenerates our hearts, creating in us a sense of guilt over our sin, a love for God, and a faith and trust in this gospel and Jesus our Lord and savior. Without the Holy Spirit first regenerating the heart of a person it is impossible for them to truly believe in Jesus Christ. When a person becomes a believer they are given a proper understanding of their sin and are grieved by it. This grief might be that of understanding how they have offended God, but it could also be a grief of them being eternally separated from God. Nevertheless, it is this guilt and grief over sin, that is the beginning of repentance. What repentance is, is a changing of the mind and a turning away from sin. You no longer desire to sin, even if you at times will have a desire to sin. No longer are you a slave to sin even though you will still sin. Repentance is making war on sin. It is going to battle against the old man you once were every single day and fighting in the power of the Holy Spirit. Repentance is loving your neighbor more and more and focusing upon the Cross of Christ as we learn day after day that we will lose this battle, yet we have victory in Jesus. Now it is important to keep in mind that none of this is done in your own power, but is done through the Holy Spirit working in you. It is not your own will that causes you to love more, but that is the fruit of the Spirit. So is the struggle against actively pursuing sin while having faith and trusting Jesus that He has forgiven you. From this perspective we can shift gears to unrepentant sin, and more importantly why it matters in terms of one's salvation. One mistake not to make is thinking about unrepentant sin the same as un-confessed sin. It is good and biblical for Christians to confess our sins. We should confess them to the Lord and to each other within the church body, however it is not proper doctrine to say that one must confess all their sins or they are unsaved. To think like this would put one in the same company as Martin Luther before he truly understood grace by faith alone in that he would go back to confession several times a day due to sins that he had not confessed. Repentance instead is a sign that one is saved. It shows that one cares about their sins, and how they offend God and affect other people. This is why any person professing Christ yet being unrepentant of their sin should examine their salvation and turn to Christ. Repentance is the evidence of salvation just like the fruit of the Spirit. If a professing believer does think what they are doing is wrong and they refuse to stop it, and fight against it, that is when there is a case of unrepentant sin. Now I hear some of you saying, "What about that verse in the Bible where Paul talks about food sacrificed towards idols?" It is true that there are some things that we are given some freedom on, and we are not to use this freedom to give into the desires of the flesh, and Paul talks about this clearly in Galatians. The works of the flesh vs the fruit of the Spirit. Our righteousness is not found in our ability to keep the law, but in Christ, and as such we should have no problem admitting when we are weak in the law, and trusting that through Jesus Christ we have been forgiven. The Christian that has true faith has no reason to try to work around the law, or bypass the law, or remove the law. The true Christian can look at the full law and see how they have failed to keep it, yet trust that in Christ they will be right before God. As such, Christians strive to be obedient to the word of God out of love for God and love for others. This is Christian life and what repentance looks like. What are your thoughts on this subject? Do you agree or disagree with me? Comment below and let me know.
Here you can read various thoughts and discussions that come from the mind of our Pastor