Posted by: pastortomvabeach | June 11, 2012

Thought for the Week June 17, 2012

I have been on vacation for about three weeks and have not posted in that time. I hope I have not lost your interest. I am back now and regular posts will continue. Thanks for your patience.

It is so good to be home. We had a wonderful vacation and I want to thank Pastor Doug for skillfully and thoughtfully keeping the “thoughts” flowing while we were away. It seems like no matter how good a vacation goes, it’s always nice to be home in familiar surroundings with those who are closest to us. Though we were in church every Sunday that we were gone, we missed “the best church in town” because you, the best people in town, were not with us. Maybe someday we can all go together!

This week let me just recap what I’ve been writing and trying to teach about for several weeks. Early in February, I began to discuss what the writer to the Hebrews calls, “elementary teachings about Christ” (Hebrews 6:1 NIV). These are foundational biblical teachings that should be common knowledge and well understood by every Christian since they sort of set the stage and support everything else about our lives as Christians and inform our study and understanding of all the rest of God’s Word. In fact, the writer says earlier in chapter 5:11-14, that we need to grasp these foundations so well that we can teach them before we can go on to the “strong meat” of further study and application of the Scripture.

We began the teaching with a subject that is not addressed by the writer but encompasses all of God’s interaction with us – grace. Grace is both our entry, by grace you are saved through faith (Ephesians 2:8) and our active power source, by the grace of God I am what I am (I Corinthians 15:10), for being and living as a Christian. When we grasp the fullness of God’s grace, we understand that He has given us everything we need to live as He desires us to live so that we don’t have to “try” to be good Christians and simply “trust” Him to empower us to be so. Leaning on His grace what is more important is that we practice regular “training” in spiritual disciplines like prayer, Bible reading and application, worship, fellowship, serving, etc. It’s not about “trying” but about putting ourselves in position for God’s power to work in us. That’s grace.

After we understand that everything comes by God’s grace, we can jump into the “elementary” topics given by the Hebrews writer, the first of which is faith. As I mentioned this week faith is what links us to everything we have or ever will have in God. Faith is taking the facts (God’s Word) and trusting that the facts are true so much that we act like they are true. By faith we live as God’s children would live because He says that is just what we are. One important point we that demands continual reminders is that “feelings” always follow faith. Our feelings will almost always tell us we can’t act by faith. But faith rests on the facts of God’s Word, not how we feel about it or about the particular situation we may be facing. If we can keep the facts first and our trust in the fact second our feelings will eventually follow along. The idea is to “act” like saints.

Along with faith the writer tells us to get hold of “repentance from dead works”. Repent simply means “to turn”, meaning to have a complete reversal of the way I think, feel, and act towards God. The Bible describes our life apart from Christ as walking away from God. When I repent, I do an about-face and turn towards Him. The parable of the prodigal son shows three aspects of this turn. The young man had a change of mind (I’m in the pig pen but my dad has everything I need), a change of heart (I’m gonna go to him and say I’m sorry), and a change of will (he got up and went). I’m pretty convinced that we will not experience true repentance unless it affects our mind, heart (emotions), and will. Again, repentance is not a one-time act we do when we come to Christ, but a regular part of our daily walk. Whenever we find that we are thinking, acting, or leaning towards something that takes us away from God, we must turn around and run in the other direction towards Him.

Most recently, we have discussed the “doctrine of baptisms”, or the teaching about baptisms. I shared my thinking that “baptisms” is plural because the New Testament teaches at least four different kinds of baptisms – baptism into the body of Christ, baptism in water, baptism in the Holy Spirit, and baptism in fire. I believe it is foundational for every Christian to recognize and experience, at least, the first three baptisms. I’m not fully sure the baptism in fire is for every Christian but, if God wants us to experience it, His grace will surely take us there.

In the next few weeks I’ll try to unpack baptism into the body of Christ and baptism in water. If you have not been baptized in water since you trusted in Jesus, I trust you’ll take some time to dig into these topics and then consider following the Savior into the water. We plan to hold a water baptism on July 1. Until then let these “elementary principles” sink down into your spirits and maybe try to pass them on to someone else! Just a thought.

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