Point of Reference
by Fred Price
In corroboration of last week’s look at Christian fruitfulness/faithfulness, several more scriptural exhortations are available to demonstrate Jesus’ expectations of us after salvation is granted by God’s grace. None are in opposition to that divine principle, as “…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.” All do, however, support the equally divine principle that, “…we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works , which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:8-10 (See also Romans 7:4)
Paul, the champion of faith as the single necessity for salvation; still commended the Thessalonian church for its “…work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love,…” 1 Thessalonians 1:3 Certainly not as a requirement for salvation but a fully warranted response to it. He likewise promotes the “holy scriptures” as able to make us knowledgeable about that salvation, as “All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work .” 2 Timothy 3:15-17 The purpose of this equipage is to fulfill the needs of the church through people who have the ability to, “…prepare (still other of) God’s people for works of service , so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God…” Ephesians 4:11-13
If we are indeed to be God’s fellow workers ( 1 Corinthians 3:9), then we must, “Do (our) best to present (ourselves) to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15 (Romans 12and James 2:8-26 give tangible, practical examples of what a workman who correctly handles the word of truth might look like.) Which is contingent on our being “…made new in the attitude of our minds,…” Causing us to “…be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” Ephesians 4:23,24 (See also 2 Corinthians 5:17) John explaining that, “He who does what is right is righteous.” 1 John 3:7
Paul characterizes God’s leading, sometimes through discipline, as leading us to a point where “…we may share in his holiness.” Hebrews 12:10 (See also Romans 6:19) Peter likewise points out God’s call on our lives to be holy like “obedient children” who do not “…conform to the evil desire (we) had when (we) lived… in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do, for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.’” 1 Peter 1:14-16 (Quoting Leviticus 11:44,45, 19:2 & 20:7, two of which speak to the issue of “consecrat(ing) yourselves.”; a process whereby we purposefully devote ourselves to a person/being or cause – set apart for holiness.) In that process, becoming “…hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined… so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.” Titus 1:8,9 Jesus taking it one step further, inexplicably instructing us to, “Be perfect… as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5:48 A goal He must know we can’t keep. But in the process of striving for perfection, we can become holy – set apart for service to others, devoted to the cause of Christ, committed to doing our best for his glory.
In discussing with Titus how we all, “At one time were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures… But when the kindness and love of God appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we have done, but because of his mercy.” Titus 3:3-5 Paul explaining further, “… I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good… things (that) are excellent and profitable for everyone.” Titus 3:8 The practical side of devotion, consecration and holiness being – in part – necessary because, “Our people must learn to devote themselves to doing what is good, in order that they may provide for themselves and not live unproductive lives.” Titus 3:14
Conveying Godly precepts to the world are crucially important, our actions at least as important as what we say. Which is why Jesus characterized our lives as potentially being the spice of life (salt of the earth) to a tasteless world, and as the “light of the world.” Encouraging us to, “…let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:13,14 & 16 Paul agreeing wholeheartedly, writing “…we take pains to do what is right, not only in the eyes of the Lord but also in the eyes of men.” 2 Corinthians 8:21
When the light of God is not received, a life lived in God’s will can have a convicting function as well. Peter instructing us to, “Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God…” 1 Peter 2:12 Or failing in that, “…it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men.” 1 Peter 2:15 “In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.” Titus 2:7,8
Scripture assures us that, “God is not unjust, he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you helped his people and continue to help them.” Hebrews 6:10 Which speaks to Jesus’ insistence that, “…wisdom is proved right by her actions.” Matthew 11:19
"Today's Little Lift" from
Mercy and not Sacrifice (Sept. 17, 2010)Read Article »
Fred Price - married (50 years), father of two grown children, grandfather of six.
Fred retired earlier this year after 42 years as a factory worker. He has always had a heart for young people and the challenges they face today. Over the years Fred has taught Discipleship Groups for High School and college students.
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