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It’s Time to Infiltrate the World Around Us

The church is a movement started by Jesus consisting of people who are “called out” together into one body in a single locality charged with the assignment of bringing the glory of God to all peoples in their community and in their world. Elsewhere the Bible calls God’s people “peculiar,” signifying that we are God’s alone and therefore are to be different and distinct in some way from the world. Jesus put it this way,

Just as I didn’t join the world’s ways. I’m not asking that you take them out of the world, but that you guard them from the Evil One. They are no more defined by the world than I am defined by the world. Make them holy—consecrated—with the truth; Your word is consecrating truth.

– John 17:15-17 (MSG)

There are basically three strategies when it comes to living up to our role as a “called out” people. One is isolation whereby we disconnect ourselves from the world around us and move into a spiritual ivory tower. We do this when we establish rules of righteousness that we can easily live by and use to assign others to a notch lower than ourselves.

The second strategy is imitation whereby we become just like like the world in order to reach the world. That is, we adopt the world view and philosophy of materialism, which sees life on earth as all there is without any supernatural or eternal power. When we imitate the world around us, we live for today and not for eternity.

The third strategy is insulation and infiltration in which we insulate ourselves with the truth of God’s Word and then carry that truth into the world with us. God calls very few into full-time ministry. He leaves the rest in their lives as His newly-called missionaries. Your workplace is a mission field, as well as your family and your neighborhood. If you isolate yourself from the world, you’ll never reach it. If you imitate the world, you might “reach” some but you’ll never bear lasting fruit. But if you insulate your life with God’s Word, then infiltrate the world with that truth, God will receive the glory!

Getting to Know Jesus For Eternity

We have, sometimes, the mistaken notion that when we get to heaven, we’ll be as God, knowing everything. Not only is this a duplication of Adam and Eve’s mistaken theology, it’s also quite unbiblical. What will be different there is that the hindrances to learning will have been removed. Listen to the way J. Sidlow Baxter puts it in Going Deeper:

Let us try to grasp it: the quintessence of heaven’s pure bliss for us will be just this, that with sinless minds, and raptured hearts, and perfected powers, through evolving aeons we shall be adoringly exploring an exhaustless Christ in whom are hid ‘all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge,’ and who ever-unfoldingly expresses to us ‘the loving-kindness’ which lives in the infinite heart of God.

No, we won’t be all-powerful and all-knowing, but we will be ever-growing with only forward progress. Listen to Paul’s wish from the Amplified Bible…

[For my determined purpose is] that I may know Him [that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly], and that I may in that same way come to know the power outflowing from His resurrection

– Philippians 3:10 (AMP)

That’s a wish that will be fulfilled for every believer without hindrance or limitation. Eternity is going to be good!!

There Is Only One Name That Saves

Religion has often been defined as man’s pursuit of God. I don’t blame people for not liking religion if that’s what it is. Keep the rules. Earn your keep. Don’t upset the Judge. Walk the line, or else!

But that’s not Jesus. And that’s not Christianity. Instead, Jesus saves. What sets biblical Christianity (as opposed to cultural or merely traditional Christianity) apart from every other religion in the world is that God has pursued US. He did so in the form of Jesus, who came and lived and died and rose again. And it is only in the name of Jesus that people who have been left empty in their pursuit of God will find refuge and salvation.

When Peter and John were on trial for preaching in Jesus’ name in Jerusalem, Peter boldly offered this defense…

No one else can save us. Indeed, we can be saved only by the power of the one named Jesus and not by any other person.

– Acts 4:12 (GW)

You can be religious and pursue God all your life and miss heaven. You can join every church in town and never find yourself in the eternal family of God. At the end of the day, it isn’t about joining, or doing, or giving, or working, or being better, or praying harder. It’s about trusting the ONE and only Savior, Jesus as the Forgiver and Leader of your life.

The King Is Coming to Fix It All

I’m writing this in the season we call Advent, which is defined as “the arrival of a notable person, thing, or event.” It’s the celebration of the coming of Jesus. But Advent has two phases. Christmas is the celebration of the first – His birth on earth. The second phase of Advent (or the “second Advent”) hasn’t happened yet, but it will someday.

When Peter was attempting to explain the two advents to the Jewish people, he said this,

Heaven must receive him until the time comes for God to restore everything…

– Acts 3:21 (NIV)

Peter spoke this shortly after the day of Pentecost. Jesus had recently died on the cross, risen again, and commissioned His people to go tell everyone about Him until He returned. Then He ascended back to heaven to wait for the future moment when the Father will send the King back the second time.

We often hear about the second coming of Jesus spoken of as something scary. And certainly, for those who reject Jesus, it will be a scary moment to realize their grave error. But the ultimate purpose of His coming is restoration.

It’s the ultimate healing for a sin-damaged planet and a sin-cursed people. It’s the great hope of believers all over the world. Peter challenged people to see the second coming of King Jesus this way:

Repent, then, and turn to God, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that he may send the Messiah, who has been appointed for you – even Jesus.

– Acts 3:19-20 (NIV)

By His Love, You Are Welcome In His House

You’re invited into the very living room of God’s palace. It’s a place of communion, of conversation, and of life-changing power. It’s a place where He spares no peace and no joy but lavishes upon His children the gifts of heaven.

And your invitation isn’t on the basis of your goodness or your qualification. It’s on the basis of His rich love. As David said,

But I, by your great love, can come into your house; in reverence I bow down toward your holy temple.

– Psalm 5:7 (NIV)

Most of us want to come home to God if we can perform better, if we can discover some emotional high, or if we can figure God out. But His invitation simply says, “Come. Get to know me. Because I love you.”