Christ with Us AlwaysMatthew 28:18-20Theme: All authority.This week’s lessons remind us that Christ’s presence is what gives power to evangelism.
LessonFaithfulness to Christ’s teachings must also involve a knowledge of the sovereignty of God. The English Bible translator J. B. Phillips wrote a book entitled Your God Is Too Small. That title, which is also a statement, might well be spoken of the great majority of professing Christians who, in their ignorance of Scripture, inevitably scale God down to their own limited and fallible perspectives. We need to capture a new, elevated sense of who God is, particularly in regard to his sovereignty. Sovereignty refers to rightful rule. So to say that God is sovereign, as the Bible does, is to say that he rules in his universe. This means that nothing is an accident, that nothing catches God off guard.
Faithfulness to Christ’s teachings must also include belief in the depravity of man. Church people are willing to speak of sin in the sense that all are less perfect than God and need help to live a godly life. That is not offensive to anyone. But it is not the full biblical teaching. The Bible teaches that men and women are in rebellion against God (Ps. 2:1-3). It says, not that they are marred by sin, but that they are dead in it (Eph. 2:1-3). It says they have been so affected by sin that even their thoughts are corrupted and that thoroughly: “The Lord saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time” (Gen. 6:5). So great is this depravity that a person cannot even come to Christ unless God first renews his soul and thus draws him (John 6:44).
Faithfulness to Christ includes grace. While it is true that in ourselves we cannot come to Christ and so live under God’s judgment, Christ teaches that God has nevertheless acted in grace toward some who were perishing. Thus, salvation is by grace alone. Jesus said, “All that the Father gives me will come to me” (John 6:37). He said to his Father, “I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me” (John 17:9).
Faithfulness to Christ also means that there is work to do. Although God does the great work of saving individuals, drawing them to Christ, he does not abandon them at that point but rather directs and empowers them to do meaningful work for him. Most of Christ’s teachings about discipleship fall into this area. So does Ephesians 2:10, which reads, “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” It is necessary that we do these good works (as Christians in all ages have), for unless we do, we have no assurance that we are really Christ’s followers. Like Jesus himself, Christians are to stand for justice and do everything in their power to comfort the sick, rescue the outcast, defend the oppressed, and save the innocent. We are also to oppose those who perpetrate or condone injustice.
Faithfulness to Christ comes when we understand our security in Christ. Jesus was strong in cautioning against presumption. He let no one think that he or she could presume to be a Christian while at the same time disregarding or disobeying his teachings. He said, “My sheep listen to my voice…and…follow me” (John 10:27). If we are not listening to Christ and are not following him in faithful obedience, we are not his. However, although he cautioned against presumption, he also spoke the greatest words of assurance and confidence for those who did follow him. He said they would never be lost. Indeed, how could they be if God himself is responsible for their salvation? Jesus said, “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand” (John 10:28).
“But,” says someone, “suppose they jump out of their own accord?”
“They shall never perish,” says the Lord. “No one can snatch them out of my hand.”
This does not mean that there will not be dangers. In fact, it implies them; for if Jesus promises that no one will succeed in snatching us from his hands, it must be because there are some who will try. Still the promise is that those who have believed in Jesus will never be lost. Christians may well be deprived of their jobs, their friends, their good reputation. Still, believers will not be lost. The promise is not that the house will not burn down, but that the people will all escape safely.
What must we come to terms with in order to be faithful to Christ’s teachings?
How does the Bible describe our sinful condition?
How can we be sure that we are really following Christ?
Further StudyStudy the following passages to deepen your understanding of the sovereignty of God: Job 42:1; Psalms 57:2, 139:16; Proverbs 16:9; Acts 17:26-28.