Posted by: pastortomvabeach | February 7, 2012

Thought for the Week February 12, 2012

In November of last year we began to work together with the plan of growing to be more Christ like through this weekly teaching. In the initial challenge I said, “I have decided to use this weekly article as an opportunity to help you to grow as you follow Christ. My plan starting out is to give a brief teaching each week to help all of us grow more familiar with the Bible and then to approach some of the most important elements of Christ-likeness by searching the Word with you.”

In the last couple of months we have reviewed the importance of hearing from God by regularly searching His Word and of conversing with Him by regularly visiting Him in prayer. I hope that you have not just taken this an nice to know information but that you have determined to really practice these “training exercises” with consistency. If you do, you will be transformed.

At this point, I want to explore some of the more foundational and vital teachings of Christianity. I do this with a bit of nervousness because there is a danger that we will study these truths which are vital to Christ-likeness as an academic subject and miss the more important lesson of applying and living them out by faith which is absolutely necessary in order to grow in love for God and love for others. So will you right now determine that you are going to try every week to act on something that you discover?

I learned long ago that we should approach every lesson from Scripture asking whether there is something there that we can do, something we must avoid, something we should pray, or something we should think. When we discover what it is, it only works when we act on it.

The writer to the Hebrews scolded his readers for being slow to act on the “milk” of God’s word and grow to the point of being “teachers” (see Hebrews 5:11-14). He pointed out that every believer is responsible to get the foundational truths in their hearts and, I think, in their actions (which is more important), then to go on from their to “strong meat”. In the opening verses of chapter six he talked about the beginning or elementary principles of the teaching of Christ (6:1-2) to direct the readers to move into deeper truth and transformation.

Because of this, I want to cover for a few (or maybe more) weeks some foundational truths about Jesus Christ. While it is important that we know and believe these truths, the real value comes when we live them out in our lives. Hebrews 6, starts off saying the foundation is “repentance from dead works and faith toward God,” so let’s start there.

Repentance and faith go hand in hand for beginning our life in Christ. It’s hard to determine if one comes before the other or both happen at once, but it is certain both are necessary. But before we even get to these concepts we must talk about grace. Everything starts with, flows from, and continues in God’s grace. Since that is so, we need to have a working understanding of what grace is so that we can recognize its power and effect in our lives. Living by grace helps to remove a lot of the discouragement we can face in “working out our salvation” (Philippians 2:12).

So what is grace? Since we are aiming to practice exercise to help us grow, I am going to let you do some of the work yourself. Look up the verses I reference here and write out for yourself a description of grace. Then next week, we’ll discuss it. Think about these passages (and any others you can find): Romans 3:20-25; 4:3-5; 5:15-21; I Corinthians 15:9-10, II Corinthians 12:9; Ephesians 2:4-9; Titus 2:4-7. There is much more teaching in the Bible about grace but let’s just chew on these for this week.

After you’ve read and considered these teachings, send me an email that has your description of what grace means. While you are thinking, ask yourself what affect grace could have on the way I live for Christ. After all, we’re after transformation, right? If that is right, then something needs to happen not only to what I know, but also to how I apply what I know in the way I live, the things I think, the way I act, and, ultimately, in the way I feel. That’s a big assignment. I believe you are up to it. What about you? Just a thought.

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