August 10, 2013

Ways To Please God II: Pleasing God Requires Commitment

We Are To Repent and Be Baptized 

Acts 2:38 ~ “Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

Baptism is not only a public confession of one’s faith, it is also an act of obedience to a command from Jesus (Matthew 28:19). Peter is in the middle of preaching the Gospel here. The people Peter preaches to are “cut to the heart”. The phrase: κατενύγησαν τὴν καρδίαν / katenugesan ten kardian / “cut to the heart” or more literally “their hearts were down-punctured”, kata meaning "down" and nýssō meaning "pierce" to pierce all the way down, deeply (thoroughly) pained; "emotionally pierced through"; psychologically pricked, these people were thoroughly emotionally stunned.

They are appropriately convicted to the core of their being (heart) and it literally is physically paining them which seems evident from the word κατενύγησαν / katenugesan. What in reality is paining them psychologically/physically is their own sin and guilt…and the answer from Peter to remedy this was to repent (turn from or change their minds from sin) and be baptized…which many did (at least 3000 that day). Peter’s response and subsequent actions are reminiscent of Jesus’ Great Commission and also of John the Baptist’s words in Luke 3, “I baptize you with water. But One more powerful than I will come, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire." The fact in verse 36, that “the One that they were guilty of crucifying was the Messiah”…was excruciating to them and they sought the only relief from the convicting guilt of their sin. When they ask, “Brothers, what shall we do?” It is clear their hearts are already turning towards repentance.

So should ours. That fact that they or we would be willing to undergo a public baptism to affirm our faith shows that our hearts have indeed turned towards God. Turned or more specifically, repented. In the Greek, the word is μετάνοια / metanoia or repentance. Literally: A turning or a change of mind or change in the inner person. Especially the change of mind of those who have begun to abhor their sin, errors and misdeeds, and have determined to enter upon a better course of life, so that it embraces a recognition of sin and a sincere desire to turn from it.

So them, so too us…when we realize our sin, there is only one place to turn. We must turn to God, specifically His Son Jesus Christ. This is very pleasing to God as it is the sole reason He send His Son to suffer on the Cross. In all these things we see a need to commit to something. So much so that we are to have a public confession of that commitment in the form of public baptism. At one time in history that type of public commitment would jeopardize a persons life. Have you committed to that level in your relationship to God?

We Are to Obey God Rather Than Man

Acts 5:29 ~ “Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than human beings!”

If this hasn’t become perfectly obvious by now in this series of posts, obedience to God is paramount and primary over obedience to man. Where man’s statutes and laws come into conflict with God’s, we are to disregard man and man-made rules. God’s rules and justice are perfect and man’s are not. Therefore they are much more preferable. Jesus proclaims as much in Mark 12:17, “Then Jesus said to them, “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.”

This is not to say that we are never to obey earthbound man-sourced authority. Romans 13:1-3 tells us that everyone should be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God and consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.

What this passage is telling is more akin to Jesus statement in Mark 12. When presented with a choice to disobey God by being forced by governing authorities to obey man instead, we are to resist man and obey God even if it means life or limb. We are to not fear those who can kill the body but rather him that can destroy body and soul in Hell (Matthew 10:28). God takes priority because of the eternal consequences of disobeying Him.

What should also be seen and understood in this verse is the fact that obedience to God in these contradictory situations is to the benefit of the believer regardless. How do we know this? It is because that which does not override or attempt to supersede God’s command and authority is something which is already in alignment with God and His will!

Make Yourself a Living Sacrifice

Romans 12:1 ~ “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.”

Making yourself a sacrifice is to give up all that means anything to you in this world including dying to self. We are to do this in pursuit of holiness and a holy God. In return we receive eternity. Before being saved the only things we did with our bodies revolved around sin. Now that we belong to God as we were bought with a price, we need to use our body and life to bring glory to Him. The best way to do this is to be like Him…like Jesus. We need to emulate the Son of God. Our bodies are temples of the Living God and it is His Spirit that dwells within us. We need to realize just how much of a privilege this is. To think it was a gift given freely is beyond human comprehension.

We need to yield up our bodies so that Christ’s work can be continued through us. Preaching the Gospel, teaching the masses about His salvational plan and evangelizing people with the truth. In giving over completely and willingly to God’s will we do similar to Jesus on the Cross. In perfect active obedience to God, Jesus lived His life and walked obediently to the Cross. In passive obedience He allowed Himself to be crucified and gave up His life as atonement for our sins. The least we can do is give ours in return to a relatively simple task of telling other people what He did for us. The verb παραστῆσαι/parastesai “present”, “give” or “yield up” is aorist active which means we are to have given (in the past) our bodies to God at some point in the past and it is done once and for all, not to be reneged on, therefore it still applies. This imperative makes a permanent demand of a believer. They need to commit in love. It is something that is asked of someone that they need to commit to and stay committed to indefinitely. Surprisingly, this describes a marriage so it is also not surprising to see Christ and the body of believers being described as a Bridegroom and His bride. I know of no two people more happy than newlyweds deeply in love. This is a very apropos analogy for believers and their relationship with Christ. I imagine this greatly pleases God and makes both parties happy in the end…as there will be no end. Pleasing God requires a commitment just as He has given to us through His covenant(s). He has always been faithful to them, it is we that have not. God is forever faithful and forever unchanging (immutable).

I suggest that this is a strained concept for many in our transient culture. In our throwaway society we have little grasp of enduring loyalty and commitment. This must change or God will frown upon our endeavours and failure will continue to plague us individually and in society. We can no longer play "fast and loose" making a mockery of marriages and committed relationships. There is nearly and entire new generation growing up in single-parent households and few see this as an issue. There is little or no sense of accountability and responsibility to tend to our families and therefore they are destroyed for want of proper biblical parenting. Again, we need to understand the proper roles and rules for doing these things and those rules/rolls are clearly outlined in the Bible and we ignore them to our own peril.

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...