Who are the people of the Church? Part I
Published 9:44 am Wednesday, June 21, 2017
What is the identity of the people in the church, that is, the true church? Who is a Christian according to the Bible?
A Christian has a past — a past shared by all humanity. We were disobedient to God (Titus 3:3; Rom. 3:23) and the rules only reveal our disobedience more. Don’t steal, we steal. Don’t lie, we lie. We were slaves to sin (Rom. 6:17). We did not just commit sin, we were sinners. Even our good deeds were not done to glorify Jesus. We were dead in our sins (Eph. 2:1). We were physically alive, but spiritually dead. Like Lazarus being raised from the dead, we were not seeking after God, but God had to pursue us and call us out of the grave. We were darkness (Eph. 5:8). We were not neutral towards God. In fact, we were haters of light (John 3:20). We did not want our wickedness exposed. We saw sin as beautiful and pleasing and Jesus as ugly. Our affections needed to be changed. We were children of wrath (Eph. 2:3). A just God must punish wickedness. Bad news — we are all wicked. Therefore, we were condemned for John 3:18 states, “whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.”
The Bible teaches it is impossible to be born a Christian for we are “condemned already,” born into sin. It would be futile to maintain a nation where all people are Christians, for we would have to deport our children at birth.
Christianity teaches that all people require conversion. Whether you grew up in a church-going family or grew up in another country where Christianity is not prevalent, all need a conversion to Jesus Christ.
Here’s what God has done. God, the Father, planned our salvation (Eph.1:3-4). The Gospel was planned. The Father was the author of this story where Jesus would go to a cross. It was no accident. The Son purchased our salvation (Eph. 1:7). We have a debt owed to God, but Jesus paid it all. We have a fine of hell for the crime of our treason against God, but Jesus paid the fine for our crime. God is just! He did not sweep our sin under the carpet. He poured out his rightful wrath on our sin on the cross. The Father drew us to Jesus (John 6:44). This is why Christians pray for God to save people. If God has nothing to do with it, then why do we even pray? We will not be walking with a swagger in heaven before Jesus and say, “Jesus, I am just so awesome for believing in you.” But, we must respond to God’s wooing with repenting trust (Mark 1:14-15).
Jesus calls us to repent, to turn from embracing our sin. He calls us to believe Jesus is the marvelous God of all creation, worthy of our worship, yet our Savior who has died on the cross for our sins, resurrected from the grave, to give the Christian peace with God, the forgiveness of sins. The Spirit then sealed our salvation (Eph. 1:13). The Spirit guarantees us to grow into the likeness of Jesus, giving us a new heart, making us a new creation.
We have overviewed what we were before Jesus, and what God has done through Jesus. Next time, we will discuss what we now are in Jesus.
Matthew Homan is the pastor of Eureka Baptist Church. His email address is email@example.com.