|Volume 24 Number 3 March 2022
An important part of remaining spiritually involved and focused as Christians is to remember who we are as the children of God, from where we came out of the hopeless depths of sin, where we are going (i.e., to spend eternity in God’s house) and how to get there. In addition, we must never take our eyes off of the heavenly horizon toward which we are marching – step after step, day by day, every day and for the rest of our lives. Remember, Peter began to sink, as he stepped out of the boat on the Sea of Galilee – when he took his eyes off of Jesus (Matthew 14:29-30). Likewise, we ought to never take our eyes off of Jesus! He will lead us to God the Father in Heaven (John 14:6).
Who are we as the children of God? We are washed, sanctified and justified, the apostle Paul taught (1 Corinthians 6:11). Formerly, you and I were those despicable and wretched sinners Paul described in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10. We remember all too well from where we came before becoming the children of God. You and I believed that Jesus of Nazareth is the Son of God (John 8:24) and were immersed in water for the remission of our sins (Mark 16:16; 1 Peter 3:21) – thereby spiritually contacting the shed blood of Jesus Christ when we imitated the death, burial and resurrection of our Lord through Christian baptism (Romans 6:3-5). The blood of Jesus Christ saves sinners from their sins (Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:14; Revelation 1:5). By the blood of our Lord we were extricated from the miry pit of sin and became the children of God.
The Bible and the Bible alone is the road map from this terrestrial sphere on which we live – planet earth – to the celestial and eternal realm of Heaven where God dwells. Heaven is where we are going, and the Bible exclusively contains the information on how to get there. Personal Bible study, as well as edification in assembled Bible classes and worship, work together to help us on our way to Heaven by making us more familiar with God’s Word. Implementing God’s Word into our lives will help us keep it between the ditches and to avoid the broad way to destruction; we need to consistently travel the narrow way to Heaven (Matthew 7:13-14). Scripture should become so much a part of our lives that we speak Bible, we live Bible and if we were to bleed – we would bleed Bible!
There is a Christian hymn entitled, “Must I Go, and Empty-Handed?” This spiritual song calls upon Christians to not only be faithful but to be fruitful, too. Yes, we are to maintain our faithfulness and worship God in His own appointed way. Yet, more is expected of the children of God and the followers of Jesus Christ. Our Lord called upon His disciples (in all ages) to bear spiritual fruit (John 15:1-8). Jesus said that the Heavenly Father expects disciples of Christ – Christians – to “bear much fruit” (John 15:8). Brethren from first century Thessalonica did just that. Remarkably, they not only bore fruit doubtlessly in their own city, but they ventured to other communities, too, with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul recognized and immortalized their evangelistic zeal in 1 Thessalonians 1:7-8, which reads, “…you became examples to all in Macedonia and Achaia who believe. For from you the word of the Lord has sounded forth, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place. Your faith toward God has gone out, so that we do not need to say anything” (NKJV).
This is one of my favorite passages. I can imagine that the apostle Paul, and others who travelled with him, arrived in city after city where they had planned to sow new ground with the Gospel of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:16 ESV). As Paul began to present the Gospel message, someone interrupted him, saying, “Thessalonian Christians were already here before you. They taught us the Gospel, and we obeyed it. We are your brothers in Jesus Christ.” Imagine the astonishment of the apostle and his traveling companions! Place after place, as Paul would begin to teach and to preach, he was met with the same kind of response from those to whom he intended to unfold the Gospel truth. Wouldn’t that be wonderful if that were able to be said about you and me? Then, we would not find ourselves arriving in Heaven empty-handed per the hymn. Thereby, we would be bearers of “much fruit.”
Dorcas departed this life “full of good works and charitable deeds” (Acts 9:36 NKJV). Christians have been “created in Christ Jesus for good works… that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10). Godly women are to exhibit “good works” (1 Timothy 2:10; 5:10). The child of God’s good works cannot be hidden from Him (1 Timothy 5:25). Repeatedly, God’s people today are supposed to “maintain good works” (Titus 3:8, 14; cf., 1 Timothy 6:18; 1 Peter 2:12). Each child of God ought to be “a pattern of good works” (Titus 2:7), and each of us should “stir up… good works” in our fellow Christians (Hebrews 10:24). Christians are Christ’s “own special people, zealous for good works…” (Titus 2:14).
However, what are good works? Good works may fall into the realms of evangelism, edification, benevolence or anything else that contributes to the accomplishment of some facet of Christianity – personally or collectively as a congregation or as collaborating churches of Christ.
Evangelism and edification may simply be talking to one’s family member, neighbor, coworker or acquaintance about Jesus Christ and His church. Giving someone a good tract is evangelism, too; or, leaving tracts unattended in public places is a form of evangelism. Not everyone must be a preacher in the pulpit, on radio or on television, but those also are forms of evangelism. These days, the Internet has great potential for evangelism.
There are many opportunities to extend benevolence to persons less fortunate than we are, irrespective of whether someone’s needs are self-inflicted (e.g., addictions, runaways, etc.). Though our hearts may more readily go out to people in need of things, we must always remember that the world needs Jesus Christ more than it needs things. Therefore, benevolence should be done in the name of the Lord’s church and with an evangelistic component (e.g., including tracts or a Bible with things, inviting to assemble with Christians, etc.). “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).
When such things as the worldwide pandemic turn our lives upside down, nevertheless, we Christians must remain spiritually involved and focused. If we are confined to our homes, don’t shrivel spiritually since a preacher or a teacher isn’t spoon feeding a biblical lesson to you; take personal responsibility for your edification and worshipping God in spirit and truth. Reach out to fellow Christians via phone and the Internet for mutual encouragement, and also use your phone or the Internet to talk to someone about Jesus Christ and His church. Contemplate how valuable and necessary interaction with fellow Christians is; determine never to miss an assembly of God’s children that we are privileged to attend. Learn to be on the lookout for opportunities for good works, no matter how small and inconsequential they may seem. Do what you can, where you are and with what you have (e.g., opportunities, material things, etc.).
Finally, each child of God must import to himself or herself the thrust of the apostle Paul’s personal motivation and goal, which reads, “I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14). Let’s determine to go to Heaven and be equally determined to take others with us – family, friends, neighbors, coworkers, homeless, wicked people and even our enemies. Reevaluate your involvement and focus, and let’s do this together – taking as many as we can persuade with the pure Gospel to Heaven with us.