Word’s matter, especially in conveying the faith once delivered to the saints. This past week while preparing to minister the Word of God, four passages of scripture came to my mind. I immediately wrote them on the white board in my office. The forth passage Mark 14:3-9, was part of my private scripture study earlier in the week. Prayerful thought on that passage led to what you read.
Mark 14:3-9 is where Mary, the sister of Lazarus, anoints Jesus with very expensive oil. John 11:2 reveals Mary wiped Jesus feet with her hair. As I pondered her behavior, the word “intimate” filled my thinking. A question filled in behind the word: what brought this woman to this “intimate” action? Soon the other three scriptures came to mind with three other words to make this list of four… Purpose, Program, Passion and Intimacy.
I am painfully aware that the above four words have been bandied about for a while to explain what the church exists for, or what we are to be doing or how we are to be doing it. In my opinion these words have been over used to the point of them being stripped of real Biblical relevance. This seems to be a problem in our watered down and coddled version of the faith in America. If one to were to run in circles of ministry, they would find that “buzz words are everywhere”. They are used for a while then fall out of vogue and them make a comeback in an endless cycle to gain “relevancy” for our ministries. I am aware that if you have been in Christianity for any stretch you have heard or read something on the four words I have written. In spite of that, by God’s grace and hopefully the leading of the Spirit of God, I want to share with you what God has laid on my heart. Here goes.
The four words are a road map, only in reverse order.
- I Peter 2:9 (Purpose))
- Matthew 5:13-16 (Program)
- Philippians 1:19-22 (Passion)
- Mark 14:3-9 (Intimacy).
Beginning with our Purpose we will take a trip over the next four postings back home to where we can understand and encounter Intimacy with Christ. I hope you are prepared for the ride.
I Peter 2:9 declares “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light”. Our purpose has built into it a state of being. We are called, children of the King, set apart for God only, and special in His sight. No minced words, we are to be what He redeemed us to be.
We understand this state of being as being possible only because Jesus, not only called us out of darkness, but translated us from darkness to light, the day we received His atoning work, by faith and having repented unto God. In light of that truth we find our life’s purpose… To proclaim His praise for what He has done. Now what I am about to say may ruffle a few feathers, but so be it.
This should remove some of the fear associated with our need to do “evangelism”. We have not been called to convert the lost. We are called to give witness to Jesus marvelous works; conviction and regeneration are the work of the Holy Spirit. Let’s remember that evangelism takes place in the command to go and make disciples of all nations. Once more we are not called to make converts, but those who are followers of Jesus. Evangelism is not to walk them on the Romans Road to saying the sinner’s prayer, as end all be all of our life. At its core evangelism is to proclaim the praises of Jesus Christ the Lord. We complicate the whole process when we have an agenda to bring some sort of commitment.
I am not saying that there are not times of mass evangelism meeting, where this all happens at once, but remember in Acts 2, Peter did not preach and say after presenting Christ “If you acknowledge your sin, believe in Jesus work and confess Him as Lord and Savior, you will be in heaven if you die today”. Remember he and the disciples were asked, as the crowd was cut to the heart “Men and brethren what shall we do?” To which Peter responds “Repent and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the girt of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:37-38). Let me challenge you to search Acts of the Apostles and see that the apostles and saints simply and powerfully proclaimed Jesus praises and the Holy Spirit led the hearers, being convicted to ask what was next. Perhaps we don’t trust the Holy Spirit to do what Jesus promises “He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgement” (John 16:8).
So we are to praise Him who called us out of darkness and into His marvelous light. Does that mean we walk around and sing little ditties unto Jesus? Well you could, I guess if you can carry a tune. If you can’t, no worries the word of God declares what we proclaim and praise Jesus Christ for, as well as how. Let us look to the gospel of John chapter 1:12.
John 1:12 (NKJV) But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:
In this passage we understand that those who believe on His name have received Him and being redeemed through faith in his name, they have the right to be called the children of God. You might be saying, but what about the cross and the death and the resurrection? Simmer down and let me explain. In the gospel of John chapter reveals many names of Jesus, that declare who He is, what He did, what He will do. As we take a look open, your Bible and read what is listed.
(John 1:1-3) Jesus is the word of God
(John 1:1-3) Jesus is true God
(John 1:1-3) Jesus is the Creator
(John 1:14) Jesus is the Word made Flesh (John 1:18) Jesus the only begotten Son
As look at these passages we see a clear picture of who our Lord Jesus was or is eternally, before His incarnation. We are to proclaim His praise, as the eternal and all powerful God and Creator of all things, who came in the flesh (Isaiah 7:14), as the only begotten Son of God (Psalm 2:7). Can you do that with joy?
(John 1:29) Jesus is the Lamb of God
(John 1:12; 3:3-6) Jesus is our Sanctifies (John 1:49) Jesus is the King of Israel and Messiah
We are to declare Jesus as the Lamb of God, who was slain to make atonement, with his own blood, on behalf of the entire world of men (Isaiah 53; Colossians 1:13-14). We proclaim that in this atonement, He made provision to transform those who were sinners and children of wrath, into the children of God, with a new nature (II Corinthians 5:17). A word of caution here is necessary, as one cannot proclaim Jesus as the one who transforms us supernaturally, without having some tangible evidence. Perhaps this is why we do so little proclaiming with joy. It is hard to praise someone who hasn’t produced what He has promised. Since you know I am not insinuating Jesus is unfaithful, this is a challenge to receive by faith and walk faithfully in what the word of God promises in Jesus name. In this stretch of His names we also get to proclaim Jesus as the fulfillment of all O.T. prophecies concerning the Messiah who is heir to David’s throne. Can you do that with joy?
I have added one more name in reference to Jesus that is implied in His role as Messiah and King of Israel, but not expressly stated in John 1, and that is Judge of the living and the dead. Key in our proclaiming the praise of Jesus who called us out of darkness and into His marvelous light, is what he will do when he returns to earth to execute justice and judge all men. I realize, depending on one’s eschatological view, they may place various aspects of Jesus return at different times than others. What we know for sure is Jesus is return is pre-millenial, and at some point He will judge the living and the dead. Most Christian’s agree on those biblical facts. Therefore we must proclaim the praise of the God who is just, and will execute justice against those who reject Jesus Christ. This is something to praise God about and a truth to warn those not in the kingdom. The praise of His judgement to come is one of the most effective songs to the lost. Can you do that kind of praising with joy, having escaped the fire of his judgement through Jesus shed blood and resurrection?
That appears to be quite a song of praise, and one that is not necessarily easily condensed into a tract or canned “evangelical” presentation. Thankfully our purpose is not to plan the presentation, but be led by the Spirit, and use the word of God hidden in our heart to proclaim His praise, as we encounter those in need of Christ, as well as to those already in Christ. To see the beauty of this in motion read Acts 8:26-39. Remember you are not called by Jesus to convert or convict, just to share the praises of the One who called you out of darkness and into His Marvelous light. This should not be hard for anyone who truly loves Jesus Christ, and is seeking to walk in His will. Next time we will discuss how this is done with the word “program”.