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What We Have In Christ – Part 1

“Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:” (Romans 5:1)

“If you have never received Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, I invite you to come forward now, we’d like to pray with you…”

How many sermons have you listened to that ended with words similar to these? I have regularly attended several different churches in my life where the message every Sunday, invariably, was a call to receive Christ and obtain Salvation. What’s wrong with that, you ask? Nothing is wrong with preaching Salvation, it is the Message that every preacher of the Gospel is called to preach. In 2 Timothy 4:5, Paul counsels the young pastor to “Do the work of an evangelist…”, literally one who proclaims the Good News (Gospel). Evangelism is, without a doubt, the highest order of business for any Christian minister.

But is the call to Salvation the be all end all Message that should be preached? Is the invitation to the lost sinner to receive Jesus Christ the totality of the preacher’s errand? One particular church I attended for a while when I was younger was located in a very small, rural town and had a regular attendance of about 25 to 30.  Comprised of mostly older people, many of whom had been members of this same church for decades, this was a little, intimate congregation made up nearly entirely of folks who were either related or had known each other for years. Yet Sunday after Sunday, the preacher would stand in his pulpit and expound on the necessity and importance of receiving Christ for Salvation.

I remember thinking one morning during the awkward silence following yet another unanswered altar call that, if there were any among this group of modest farmers and laborers who had not yet come to faith in Christ, they probably never would!

The ardent call to faith in Christ is extremely important and should be implicitly present even in the sermons where it is explicitly absent. That one must be trusting in Jesus Christ, crowning Him as their own Lord and Savior, believing on His name for Salvation, is the underlying assumption behind every message given involving the grace and blessings of God. Yet the time comes for us to move beyond the call to faith, the Message of Salvation itself, into that meat of the Word of God, that nourishment and spiritual sustenance that the Provider of all good things has given to His own. We certainly do well to periodically revisit the fundamental foundation on which every Christian stands, for even the full-grown adult can still feed on the gentle milk of the Gospel and be filled by it, but for any of us to grow beyond spiritual “childhood”, we must partake of solid food.

“Therefore being justified by faith…” (Romans 5:1a)

That single word, therefore, bridges what we have been discussing in the previous chapters with what follows. In other words, what we are about to look at is expressly for those who have been justified by faith, it is for those already saved. The Apostle Paul has delivered the call to faith, and any who have not yet heeded must do so if they are to avail themselves of the rest of what is to come. In Verse 12 of this Fifth chapter of Romans, we return again to a discussion of Salvation itself, but for these first 11 verses, we will consider what it is we have in Christ.

Earthly Benefits

So many non-Christians are disinterested in coming to Christ because they fail to see any benefit in it. The reality of an afterlife just seems far too abstract and ethereal for a lot of people, particularly younger people. Try to talk with most teenagers and young adults about what will happen to them after they die and you will often get a blank stare at best, or perhaps a cynical smirk. Why? Because in their mind, what happens after they grow old and die might as well be a million years away.

What we often miss is the fact that there are many blessings and benefits to be enjoyed in Christ today. Eternal life is, of course, the greatest gift that God has given to us, but He has also given us so much more! We do not have to wait until we die in order to enjoy all of the wonderful things that the Lord has provided. There are earthly benefits to be found in Christ, blessings for anyone who is trusting in the Lord Jesus to have right now. Over the coming days, Lord willing, we will take a closer look at some of these benefits.

To God goes all glory. In service to Him,

Loren

 

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7 responses

  1. Thanks, Loren

    I’ll be back to share my comment later. Thought you might want to take a look at this … http://iftodaywehear.wordpress.com/2011/08/15/a-convenient-time/ ;-) Do read the comment from ‘A’ … I think you’re both on the same wavelength.

    Blessings,
    ann

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  2. Thanks again Loren,

    “So many non-Christians are disinterested in coming to Christ because they fail to see any benefit in it. The reality of an afterlife just seems far too abstract and ethereal for a lot of people, particularly younger people.”

    I grew up in Christian home. As children, we went to church because it was expected. I accepted Christ as my saviour – as expected (… the relationship aspect didn’t happen for me until many years later.)
    Salvation was preached (ad nauseam). There was certainly no lack of that. But for people who didn’t see themselves as needing Him, the gospel was a hard sell. On the other hand, the long term benefits were enough to encourage some to ‘live life now and serve Him when they get old’. :-) I know quite a lot who did that including one relative who came to Christ close to reaching the ‘threescore years and ten’. He’s walking with Him now and very happy and his only regret is that he didn’t start walking earlier. :-)

    “I remember thinking one morning during the awkward silence following yet another unanswered altar call that, if there were any among this group of modest farmers and laborers who had not yet come to faith in Christ, they probably never would!”
    I have been to churches like the one you described. I remember one particular old man who liked his liquor – a lot… All eyes would be on him as the pastor begged and cried and sweated buckets. He never budged. :-) Many years later, he stepped forward at another church and as far as I can tell, He died in Christ. t’)

    Looking forward to what you will share for His glory. Praying His gift will continue to be multiplied in you.

    Blessings much,
    ann

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  3. Wow, thanks Ann. I just read Deb’s post and “A’s” comment, very well put and definitely on the same wavelength :)

    Very cool, thanks for bringing that to my attention

    (I have gotten so far behind on reading all of my favorite blogs…uggh!! I so hope to get caught up soon!)

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  4. Thanks, Ann, some really excellent illustrations!

    I had a friend when I was a kid who actually said that he planned to follow Christ “when he got older”, but wanted to experience all that life had to offer while he was young. All right, but what if something unforeseen happens and you don’t make it until “you get older?” Your relative was blessed with the good fortune of living into his old age and was able to come to Christ before leaving this world…many are not. I wonder how many people have had such a plan only to have their lives end prematurely and unexpectedly, how terrible! I have also heard stories of folks waiting and waiting to come to Christ and, even when they finally did, they lived out the rest of their days on earth carrying the consequences of the sins of their youth, the sins that they had been so reluctant to forsake. Yes, they were saved and headed for Heaven, but the balance of their life on earth was marred by diseases, injuries, financial hardship, and a host of other maladies resultant from their previous poor choices.

    It’s funny that you mentioned every eye being on the old drinker when the altar call was made, I have seen that sort of thing, too. When I was younger, I used to visit a lot of different churches to learn more about what various denominations taught and believed. More than once, I remember “peeking” during the “every eye closed, every head bowed” segment of the altar call (I know, I know, you’re not supposed to…I’m ashamed to admit that I did it) only to find many of the parishioners casting glances over at me. I guess that if you hadn’t been saved in their particular church then you weren’t really saved.

    Thanks again, Ann, I always enjoy everything you share :)

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  5. I saved you for last today, Loren. And that’s not a bad thing!!! It’s because I always need to make sure I have time to think and absorb here. Because you do give us meat to grow on.
    That salvation means more than our sins being forgiven . . .as incomprehensible as that amazing fact is . . .shows even more how wonderfully vast is God’s love and His ways. Maybe more will make those decisions to come to Jesus for salvation, as they hear about something in addition to that needed forgiveness? Hoping . . .praying! I’m a simple person and just came to Him. I didn’t have lots of questions, didn’t need lots of answers, had bottomed out and needed saved.
    I loved the altar calls and the Gospel being shared during our church times. Maybe because I’m simple? ha! But, we had a larger group and it wasn’t the only thing that was preached either. Lots of deeper messages too. I do remember that almost every sermon seemed like it was just for me. Often it was something I had journaled about that week, then there my pastor was, preaching on it. :)
    So thankful with you that we don’t have to wait for the benefits of our salvation! And A’s comment was so in line with your thoughts and post, all I can do is smile! :)
    God bless you Loren, and these upcoming posts! I enjoyed reading the comments too!!! Thanks Ann and thanks to you!

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  6. Hi Deb,

    Sorry it has taken me so long to respond to your wonderful comments, things have gotten busy again! Thank you so much for taking the time to share your reflections on all of the blogs you read, I know it keeps you busy but I am sure I speak for everyone when I say we are all blessed by your comments and encouragement :)

    “Maybe more will make those decisions to come to Jesus for salvation, as they hear about something in addition to that needed forgiveness?”

    When I came to Christ, I was a young child and did not really have a lot of needs to be met or ailments (physical or emotional) that needed healing. God touched my heart in such a way that I just knew I wanted to follow Him wherever He was leading. I was overwhelmed by the love of the Lord Jesus, even though I did not even begin to understand how great that love is (still learning 30 some odd years later!). Even so, I realize that a lot of people come to Christ because they are hurting and do not know where else to turn; and this is definitely a valid reason! When we look in the Gospels and see all of the people who came to Christ who were sick, crippled, blind, or suffering from an incurable disease, we notice that their first concern was to be made well of their physical affliction. Many lost sinners are so focused on their tangible illnesses (physical, emotional, mental) that they cannot see beyond them to notice their spiritual sickness. Praise God that He can heal both!

    “I loved the altar calls and the Gospel being shared during our church times. Maybe because I’m simple? ha! But, we had a larger group and it wasn’t the only thing that was preached either. Lots of deeper messages too”

    You were truly blessed to have a church that was grounded in the whole counsel of God’s Word when you were first saved. In all fairness, though I only mentioned those which were not, I must admit that I, too, have regularly attended and visited many that teach the deeper messages in addition to the simple Gospel. Rarely, a church will find that balance between “nursing” the babes and feeding the older Christians, but how awesome it is when they do just that!

    Thanks again, Deb, and God bless you and your service to Him :)

    To God goes all glory,

    Loren

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  7. […] longer lost and bound for Hell, but are redeemed and headed for Heaven. We receive a multitude of blessings and benefits here on Earth, but our hope, our expectation looks toward that day when our journey through this […]

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