|Volume 21 Number 1 January 2019||
How can I find the sure way to be pleasing to God? How can I discern between all the organizations that claim to be “the church”? These questions perplex many people, but others are oblivious to the dangers of never knowing the right way to God or to His son Jesus Christ.
Jesus said, “I will build my church.” He did not say that He would establish dozens of religions or 5,000 or more denominational groups from which we may choose. Those who may claim to preach the truth will take their followers up to the verge of baptism, and then, they tell them to go join the “church of your choice.”
No one can just choose to “join” the church that Jesus built. The choice is that of obedience to the teaching of Jesus Christ. Jesus, then, adds to the church all who desire to follow Him in His kingdom. When one completely yields to Christ and becomes His true disciple, the Lord Jesus adds that person to His church.
Some may ask the question, “How can I find, know and understand who God is? How can I know the right way?” Those who ask these questions are usually directed to Matthew 7:7-8, which reads, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.” It should further be pointed out that Colossians 1:15 says, “He [Jesus] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.” Jesus Christ is the visible image of the invisible image of God.
Those seeking to know, see and understand God should be directed to Hebrews 11:6, which reads, “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.”
I would also suggest that all who seek to find God direct their questions to the Son of God Himself. In John 14:6-7, Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”
I would, then, suggest to you that if you are seeking to become a disciple of Jesus Christ, if you have sought Jesus Himself, studied His life, absorbed His teachings and followed Him as a true disciple, when you have searched the Scriptures to gain faith, have laid hold of that faith and yield in full obedience to the will of God and His Son Jesus, then and only then, will Jesus add you to His church. Finally, you will know Christ and truly know God as well.
It is my prayer that you have already or will soon yield in obedience to all that Jesus has taught us by His life, death and resurrection. May you, then, truly know both the Father and the Son.
When we first got into my first class Wednesday morning, I had my students sign in on the sheet and mark whether they had their work or not. One of my young ladies, who is personality plus, wanted to use a pen. She looked at the boy who was walking away with a pen, and she said to him, “Let me have the pen; don’t make me use your full name!” I couldn’t help but chuckle. I commented on it, and she said, “That is what a middle name is for, so that you can know when you are in trouble.” She was so right. My children knew they were really in trouble when we used their full names in addressing them. It is funny how little events like this get you to thinking and what applications of a funny line can come to mind.
Using one’s full name implies that you know the person well. Have you ever thought about the fact that we do not know most people’s full names? We know them, but not intimately enough to really know their full names. Maybe we need to take more time to get to know others so that, instead of being on a “first-name basis,” we can be on a “full-name basis.” When we come to know others, we can be a more positive influence on them, and we can offer rebuke when it is needed, but hopefully more often, we can offer words of genuine encouragement.
There are times that we need to have someone use our full names! I would say that most of the times that I heard my parents call me by my full name, I deserved what was coming, and even more than that, I needed what was coming. We all have times when we need to be called by our full names. There are times when we need to realize we are on the wrong track. What a blessing it is if we have someone who will “call us by our full names.” I wonder sometimes, as I reap the results of having taken a misstep in my life, if it is not as if I hear the voice of God (figuratively) calling, “Earl Dean Kelly, you stop this minute, and you pay attention to Me.” Maybe, sometimes, God is saying to me, “Don’t make Me use your full name!“
There is a day coming when we will be called by our full names, good or bad! When called by our full names, it is a recognition that a person knows who we truly are. We are being recognized as the unique individuals that we are. Each of us is special in our own right. Each of us is one of a kind. Further, each of us bears individual responsibility. One day I will stand before God, and my name will be called. At that moment, God will recognize me as the person I am, according “to the things done in my body.” God will look at me, and say either, “Earl Dean Kelly, come on home” or “Earl Dean Kelly, it is too late for you!” The choice is mine to make right now, right here. I am thankful for all of those who have cared enough to “call me by my full name” when I have needed it. So, thank you to my student for making me laugh and think. Now, she better have her papers ready, unless she wants me to call her by her full name!