Christian authenticity stands the test of real life


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Christian authenticity speaks to “the tested genuineness of your faith” (1 Peter 1:7a). The apostle Peter had much to say about real personal faith in Jesus Christ. That is, faith which is seen and experienced by others, which can be tested and proven, which perseveres, even following times of stumbling and disappointments.

Christian authenticity stands the test of real life

Peter explains that genuine faith is more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire” (1 Peter 1:7b). The greatest treasures of this world are nothing compared to the eternal value of faith in Jesus Christ (Mat 16:26) which secures your soul. Peter’s point is this; even pure gold which has been refined will fade and suffer the effects of time and erosion; being of no spiritual value at all. However, dependant faith in Jesus Christ will produce eternal life and increase Christ-likeness with a growing desire for Him.

Counterfeit verses genuine faith

Pseudo faith that appears orderly, ticking all your preferences, may make you feel nice, but can only fail you with devastating consequences. Then there’s biblical faith, which is altogether different. Biblical faith focuses on Jesus as personal Lord and Saviour. It grows, wanting always to “be found to result in praise and glory and honour at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:7c).

You can identify pseudo faith (worldly faith) by its constant desire for self-promotion and fleshly appetites. It convinces you to take Jesus on a test drive, checking that He will perform as you want. Worldly faith is happy for you to attend church, just as long as it’s all about you. However, worldly faith has little interest in long term glorification of Christ and will dump you as soon as the dark pains of life hit.

The faith Peter speaks of shows its authenticity by looking beyond self and today. The benefits in this life are secondary compared to faith’s ultimate goal of magnifying the Lord Jesus Christ for eternity.

You see, “the tested genuineness of your faith” which Peter speaks of strives in anticipation for the return of Jesus Christ. The believer’s highest aspirations can only be satisfied upon seeing Christ exalted as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Faith’s expectation will only be fulfilled when you witness “that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:10-11).

Practical faith

James was very practical when it came to the Christian’s faith. He realised that the challenges of life are useful for maturing in Christ-likeness, a process we often resist. Yet James instructs us to “count it all joy… when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-4).

More than ever, believers need to have a biblical response to life’s difficulties, seeing them as God sees them. Recognise God’s purpose, which is for the; “testing of your faith (to) produce steadfastness.”  Testing gives opportunity as Jesus said; to experience that “if you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love” (John 15:10).

Today, be encouraged to grow Christian authenticity which stands the test of real life in Christ. Help another believer today to understand how to grow their faith and bring glory to Jesus Christ.

Together for Christ:  Lincoln Forlong      www.baybiblefellowship.co.nz

 Christian authenticity stands the test of real life   Christian authenticity stands the test of real life

Choose treasures that will last for eternity

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We all have things which we treasure above all else; things we value highly and are willing to sacrifice for. For the Christian it’s no different, except that believers’ most precious treasure is securely stored in heaven.

Choose treasures that will last for eternity

Jesus, having just instructed His disciples on a right pattern of prayer life, goes on to clarify what should be their ultimate priorities. Jesus said; “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also(Matthew 6:19-21).

Jesus once again cut straight to their inner most passions. It’s the same for us today. If you wish to clearly see where your heart’s affections lay, simply look for where you store your most valued treasures.

Mortal reality

Old Testament Nahum reasoned that; “There is no end of the treasure or of the wealth of all precious things” (Nahum 2:9b). Humanly speaking, the pursuit of accumulating possessions and experiences seems endless. However, this mortal life only offers a few short years to acquire precious commodities, so prioritising them is important.

Believers are intended to be spiritually wise investors; recognising the temporary nature of earthly possessions and experiences. Jesus was right; everything we acquire here eventually rots away or ends up being owned by someone else. In time, everyone physically surrenders everything to the sad realities of living in a sin dominated world, and we all lose all that we worked so hard to obtain.

The Lord Jesus, understanding the world system and the way of life, rightly instructed to lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven.” It’s quite simple really; make investments with your time, energy, and possessions which deposit spiritual funds in your heavenly bank account. These intangible deposits will be invisible to the human eye, but recognised and valued highly by the Lord of glory. They will be securely stored by none other than God Almighty where no earthly influence can diminish them.

A doctor’s advice

Doctor Luke recorded Jesus expanding on the relationship between earthly and heavenly treasure. Jesus explained; “make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth (money), so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal dwellings” (Luke 16:9). Jesus, who owned nothing of earthly significance, was in fact the wealthiest man who ever live. Jesus’ investment advice has stood the test of time and eternity and is proven to be totally dependable.

Put simply; use your earthly money and possessions as tools for introducing people to the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Then, when all your money fails to keep your ageing body alive, you will discover your dividends in heaven. The people who came to know Christ because of your right use of financial resources will be in heaven to welcome you upon arrival. Now that’s a genuine long-term investment of true value.

As “our citizenship is in heaven” (Philippians 3:20) I encourage you to evaluate the resources at your disposal. Invest wisely, not based upon this worlds failing values, but determined by the Saviour of your soul. Chose treasures that will last for eternity! As a believer you have been blessed “in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 1:3). Draw from God’s resources to use His creativity in His strength and courage to serve others with the Good News of Jesus Christ.

Together for Christ:  Lincoln Forlong      www.baybiblefellowship.co.nz

 Let the Body of Christ grow in God’s strength   Let the Body of Christ grow in God’s strength

Love the body of Christ with Christ’s love

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For a Christian, it’s inspiring to realise that “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit” (Romans 5:5). As stunning as that truth is, each Christian is responsible for what they do with that love. While it’s one thing knowing that nothing “will be able to separate us from the love of God” (Romans 8:39), it’s a whole different matter as to how you live His love toward others.

Love the body of Christ with Christ's love

It should go without saying, but your God oriented love must “be genuine,” and to do that the Lord says you are to “abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good” (Romans 12:9). This is where Christians often have a conflict of interest. Worldly influence and selfish desires have little or no interest in holy living.

At some point, sin whispers in your ear saying; it’s OK to do and say what you want. After all, sin argues, you’re entitled to be honest, even though your honesty may crush the other person. Sin always puts self-expression before others, and usually at others expense.

Evaluate as God does

Since “all that you” do is to “be done in love” (1 Corinthians 16:14); it’s healthy to evaluate what you think is the way you express love to others. Looking at self from God’s perspective is purifying, especially when considering the way in which you do and say love. Remember, “love builds up” (1 Corinthians 8:1), it does not beat the other person down.  It doesn’t manipulate, nor does it use innuendo or silence to manoeuvre others to where you want.

Authentic, Christ generated love, isn’t motivated by self-gratification. Therefore, self-vindication is excluded in preference for outdoing “one another in showing honour” (Romans 12:10). Self always comes second, just as it did for Jesus Christ, who “humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:8). No wonder Paul instructed the Philippi church to “have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5). Beloved, choose self-sacrificing love! It’s the only legitimate love which is from Christ, and others need to see, hear, and feel it through your life.

That being said; the body of Christ does not consist of strict ethnic groupings such as “Greek and Jew …but Christ is all, and in all” (Colossians 3:11). In this Jesus culture, believers are called to “put on then… compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive” (Colossians 3:12-13).

Attitude grows behaviour

These attitudes and behaviours make the church a sanctuary for believers in Jesus Christ who chose to make Christ’s behaviour their behaviour. And what a wonderful place the church is when Christians behave like Jesus!

However, take note of what Paul says is the crowning jewel of all Christ-like character; “above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony” (Colossians 3:14). True unity is constructed with Christ’s love as the glue which pulls every other beautiful attribute together in humility towards one another. “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:4-5).

I encourage you to love the body of Christ with Christ’s love by passing these truths on to another believer for their benefit. Share Christ for His glory and enjoy!

Together for Christ:  Lincoln Forlong      www.baybiblefellowship.co.nz

 Let the Body of Christ grow in God’s strength   Let the Body of Christ grow in God’s strength

Let the Body of Christ grow with God’s growth

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Growth is an integral part of all life; from plants, the animal kingdom, to humanity. We expect to see growth in all that lives, so it is in the body of Christ. The apostle Paul explained to the Colossian believers; “…holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God” (Colossians 2:19).

Let the Body of Christ grow with God’s growth

As Paul was warning Colossian believers of imposters infiltrating the congregation, he inserts this affirmation of how God works to grow His church. Healthy saints cling to Christ who “is the head of the church, his body” (Ephesians 5:23). It’s Christ who administers nourishment and knits together every member of the church body. No one is left out or overlooked; however, each member must accept the growth God gives.

God designed growth

God’s design for “the whole body” is to grow its “joints and ligaments” which are the individual Christians that make up the local church congregation. No member is ever qualified to step aside and stop growing in Christ’s body. Individual believers grow best when connected and functioning selflessly in the body.

Christ circulates the necessary spiritual nutrients for growth through church relationships by feeding on God’s Word, united worship, fellowship, prayer, and service. This is how individual members grow connections with other members to develop a healthy church body. Sadly, if a limb separates from the body, it quickly withers, losing the nutrition for life because it chose amputation. This is never God’s intension or desire.

Christians need each other. First, because togetherness maintains connection with the Head (Christ). Second, the various gifting’s of other believers enable you to receive nutrition from the Head. Third, it’s only in the church body that you grow “with a growth that is from God.” Any appearance of growth that’s isolated from the body is not from God and is imitation (James 3:13-18).

Growth is interpersonal

This was Paul’s point to the Ephesians; “speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ” (Ephesians 4:15). If the body development is not Christ centred, with the exaltation of Christ as the source and purpose, it’s not of God. Paul explained it to the Corinthians this way; “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth (1 Corinthians 3:6-7). Believers need each other in order for God to grow them in Christ for His glory alone.

Paul personalised this for the Ephesians by saying; “the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love” (Ephesians 4:16). When ‘agape’ love is deficient in the body or an individual, growth is stunted and the body is deprived of the ability to grow in God’s strength.

Here, Paul is speaking to heart intention; your motives make a difference to your church growth. Personal growth, or lack of it, in part, effects the growth of other members of Christ’s body in your local congregation. It’s inescapable! If God’s love dwells in you (Rom 5:5), you will be compelled by that love (2Co 5:14) to benefit other members in Christ’s body by doing everything you can to permit God’s strength to be your strength.

Today, intentionally do the things which will enable the body of Christ to grow with God’s growth? Share this with another believer to encourage their growth. The Lord will be honoured, they will be blessed, and you will be joyed.

Together for Christ:  Lincoln Forlong      www.baybiblefellowship.co.nz

 Let the Body of Christ grow in God’s strength   Let the Body of Christ grow in God’s strength

Let the Body of Christ grow in God’s strength

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I encourage you to let the Body of Christ grow in God’s strength

In Ephesians 3:14-16 we find the apostle Paul praying for the strength of the church. Two thousand years later, few believers would deny their need for spiritual strengthening. So, we’re going to look at Paul’s specific requests, acknowledging they are as relevant today as they were then.

Let the Body of Christ grow in God’s strength

God’s mercy provides all that’s needed for His children “according to the riches of his glory” (Eph 3:16a). The Lord doesn’t hand out left-overs, nor does He give second-hand gifts. No, He provides the very best Heaven has to offer; and what He gives is a reflection of the infinite wealth of His own holy majesty and power, His glory.”

Therefore Paul was requesting the very best God had to offer the Christians in Ephesus. He wanted the Lord to grant them “to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being” (Eph 3:16b). Paul’s not asking God to simply help them. He’s not asking for external assistance, nor is he asking for a top-up of energy to get them through the day. No, Paul’s asking God to engage His Holy Spirit in energising their entire inner person; spiritually, emotionally, and physically, with the required measure of divine resources needed in each individual.

A big request for a big God

This was no small proposal. In order “that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith” (Eph 3:17a), Holy Spirit intervention is needed. Therefore, Paul wanted the Lord’s will to win the day (Eph 1:11) through Christ’s Lordship over the believer’s entire inner being through the mechanism of faith. As we know from Ephesians 2:8-9, faith is gifted from God due to mankind’s inability to possess it. This faith is a deep belief which is so convinced of God that dependant trust in Christ as Lord and Saviour is the only appropriate expression of that faith. That’s precisely what Paul wanted for believers.

Consequently, by God’s design, the body of Christ is to be “rooted and grounded in love” (Eph 3:17b). Authentic Holy Spirit generated love (Rom 5:5) is healthy, enabling others to know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). Likewise, deep selfless love affirms a believer’s authenticity. Jesus says “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15). “Grounded in love” is obvious because it’s marked by obedience to Christ.

Christians need heavenly “strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge” (Eph 3:17b-19a). Make no mistake; God’s children are dependant upon the Holy Spirit’s inner strength if they are to mature to a truly deep realisation of Christ and His love.

Divine strength – not fantasy

Now, all this may sound somewhat fanciful, yet the apostle Paul and God are quite serious. Both desire “that you may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Eph 3:19b). Enabling intimacy with God to grow to saturation with His character is paramount. This is God’s will for your life, and in order to accomplish His will, the Lord graciously grants the required strength.

Be encouraged Christian friend; “We all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18).

I encourage you to let the Body of Christ grow in God’s strength. Share these truths with another believer so they too may be built up in their faith, for God’s glory, their blessing, and your joy.

Together for Christ:  Lincoln Forlong      www.baybiblefellowship.co.nz

 Let the Body of Christ grow in God’s strength   Let the Body of Christ grow in God’s strength