Friday, October 7, 2011

Proclaiming Jesus With More Than Words


Today I am going to talk about "Truth" and I will begin with a fateful conversation.
Pilate therefore said to Him, "Are You a king then?" Jesus answered, "You say [rightly] that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice." Pilate said to Him, "What is truth?" And when he had said this, he went out again to the Jews, and said to them, "I find no fault in Him at all. " John 18:37-38 NKJV
Never has there been a better question with a more tragic response.  Pilate, standing before the Lord, asks a great question but does not wait for the answer.  You know it had to be burning at his heart, otherwise why would he have even cared to try and let Jesus go free.  Sadly, Pilate sided with the crowd rather than the one who could have given him eternal life.  So what is Truth?  I think we all know the answer.
Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me."  John 14:6 NKJV
And so we, as Christians, proclaim that truth to an unbelieving world. Proclaiming Truth (that is Jesus and Jesus saves) is a wonderful thing and something we are all called to do, but I often think we forget to ask ourselves what that truth means for us.  Yes, Jesus is truth, but what good is a truth we do not act upon?  What good are our proclamations if they are merely words of a truth we do not live out in our own lives?  You see, to say merely that Jesus is Truth is not all that meaningful when we do not ponder all that it means.  We must not only declare that Jesus is truth, but consider what that means for our lives and act upon it.  It is how we act upon the that truth that proclaims Jesus to an unbelieving world.  It is our changed lives that act as a testimony to those who would otherwise be skeptical to the truth of Jesus.  And where do we find that truth?  We find it in the Word of God.  The Word of God is truth and Jesus is that Word become flesh.  He is the living expression of the Word of God and as His followers, it is for us to follow in that example.  Let us look at some truths that the Bible calls us to honor with our lives.
You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.  Matthew 5:13-14 NKJV
The Bible declares that we are the light and salt of the world.  It does not say we should strive to be those things nor does it say we are going to become those things when we are in Heaven.  It says we are the salt and light right here and right now.  That is truth and a truth that can only be realized as it is expressed through our lives.  We are light and salt by virtue of who we are in Christ and not by anything we can do.  We should be a light in a dark world and that means we rise above the unrighteousness that surrounds us, exposing it and shaming it through the light of the righteousness of Jesus Christ that shines through us.  We are the salt of the world by being a positive influence for Jesus Christ.  We should be living expressions of the love of Christ to an unloving world.  We should share the grace of Jesus in word and deed.   That is not who we are supposed to be, but the Truth of who we are.
 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?  Romans 6:1-2 NKJV
The declares that we are dead to sin.  It does not say we are dying to sin or even that we should make the choice each day to die from sin.  It says we are dead to it.  In fact, the tense used here is one that means past tense and never to be repeated.  In other words, in Christ, we are dead once and for all to sin.  Of course this begs the question as to why we all still sin.  No one, not me or anyone else, does not continue to sin to some extent after receiving Jesus.  The difference is that when we sin now, it is something we choose to do rather than something to which we are slaves.  Surely we are still tempted, but that choice to give in to those temptations always represents a failure on our part to realize that we are free form that bondage.  As we grow in the Lord, this truth should become more and more a part of our lives.  This is truth, that we are dead to sin, and one we must remember no matter how strong the temptations may seem. 
Therefore, if anyone [is] in Christ, [he is] a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.  2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV
We are new creations in Christ. Once again, this is not a declaration of what we will become someday, but who we are now.  We are new creations.  Old things have passed away.  All things have become new.  That is why there should be some change in your life if you are saved.  Quite honestly, our lives should be transformed.  We all hear the testimonies of people living absolutely wretched lives who were dramatically changed when the came face to face with Jesus. We are not who we used to be and our old conduct is our conduct no more.  The Bible makes the contrast time and time again of who we were compared to who we are now in Christ.  The expression of this new creation in our lives is process that takes place over time.  Usually that time is the rest of our lives until we are completely transformed and given our new eternal bodies.  As we grow in the Lord, though, this new creation should become more and more evident.  Once again, this is Truth.  We are new creations in Christ and so we should resemble less and less of who we were as we grow more and more into who we are in Christ.
But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? James 2:20 NKJV
Here is a truth we often want to forget.  Faith without works is dead. This is not to say that we are in any way saved by works.  This is also not to say that the works we do add anything to our salvation or even that they are necessary to maintain our salvation.  This is to say that works are a natural expression of our relationship with Jesus.  That is a characteristic of the new creation that we are.  It is part of being the light and salt of the earth.  We do works not because we have to, but because of who we are.  We do not do works to try to get God to love us more, but we do works because we love God.  Faith without works is dead because works are faith in action. 
For whom the LORD loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives. Hebrews 12:6 NKJV
Now we are moving more to truths that are not outward expressions from us, but promises of God made to us.  God promises to chasten us should our behavior dictate such an action.  Please do not be discouraged by this.  This is not God punishing us to hurt us, but making it clear to us that our behavior is not glorifying Him.  It is to change wrong behavior and to heal a hurting relationship.  Just as a father punishes a child out of love and concern, so does God punish us out of love and concern.  We can not live lives that are shameful to God and expect there to be no consequence.  God is preparing us for eternity with Him and when we rebel against His authority over our lives, God has no other choice but to do what He needs to in order to bring our attention back to Him. Again, this is truth, God will chasten those whom He loves, but be encouraged because it means God loves you and is concerned for your behavior. 

Lest you think that I am preaching any form of legalism, let me assure you that all that I have written on so far are things that are as a result of being saved and in no way add to or earn our salvation.  These are undeniable Scriptural truths that reflect the characteristics of someone saved.  These are things that we are naturally as the new creations in Christ that we already are.  These are the effects of salvation and the truths we must consider as we apply Christ to our lives and proclaim Christ with our lives.  There are a few other important truths I want to share right now in the form of a few Scriptures.  These should all be of great encouragement and it is the knowledge of these promises that allow us to express the New Man that we are to the world.
being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete [it] until the day of Jesus Christ;  Philippians 1:6 NKJV

For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Romans 8:38-39 NKJV

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.  2 Timothy 1:7 NKJV
Of course those are only a small sampling of the many promises God has for His children. He tells us that He established good works for us from before the foundations of the earth, He tells us that as we seek Him that He will provide all our needs, He promises that no weapon formed against us shall prosper, He tells us that the Holy Spirit dwells in our  hearts, He tells us that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us, and He tells us that we are sealed for redemption. 

We are all called to proclaim Jesus Christ to the world.  We must realize that proclaiming Jesus is not something we just do with our mouths.  Sharing who Jesus is with the world is essential, but so is exemplifying Jesus.  We proclaim Christ by our lives.  That is an essential truth we must grasp.  Is Jesus glorified in empty words about a truth we do not even apply to our own lives?  Jesus is not glorified by that at all.  If Jesus is truth to us, then that truth must mean something to our lives.  It must mean that the truths shared in God's word are part of our lives.  We can speak until we are blue in the face, but if we are not proclaiming Jesus with our lives, we are not proclaiming Jesus at all.  God is glorified in our changed lives.  God is gloried in our selfless works for the kingdom.  Is God glorified in your life?
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.  Matthew 5:16 NKJV

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