Who are the people of the church? Part II
Published 10:11 am Wednesday, July 5, 2017
The last installment elaborated on what the Christian was before Jesus and what God has done through Jesus. Now, we explore what the Christian is after he is converted by Jesus.
The Christian is spiritually alive. John 3:36 begins, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life. … ” Yes the Christian will be alive forever, but the Christian’s dead heart has been made alive again by the Spirit of God as well (Ephesians 2:5).
A picture of being made alive by the Spirit is the declaration that the Christian is a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). Christianity is not a self-improvement program. It is a radical transformation by the Spirit, not the self. The Christian is declared new, and will be made new. If you claim to be a Jesus follower, can others see evidence of such a radical transformation in your life?
The Christian is forgiven (Colossians 1:14). God forgives every sin: murder, rape, lying, stealing, gossip and adultery. Forgiveness is the fine for our crimes being cancelled, because they have already been paid by Jesus on the cross. God displays his enormous love to us, for it was Jesus who willingly laid down his life for our sin. This is truly amazing grace.
Followers of Jesus have been reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5:18). The Christian was once at war with God, his enemy. But now, he is at peace with God, his friend. God’s desire is reconciliation, not condemnation. He offers such reconciliation through Jesus. Christians therefore are called to display reconciliation to one another. The Gospel of reconciliation is the reason the Apostle Paul forbids Christians taking one another to court (1 Corinthians 6). The Gospel of reconciliation is the reason the Apostle Paul encourages divorced spouses to reconcile (1 Corinthians 7:11). Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Reconcile as the Lord reconciled you.
Those in the true church of God are called children of God (1 John 3:1). Yes, we are all God’s creation, his creatures. 1 John 3 explicitly explains that there are children of God and children of the devil; no other categories. Conversion to Jesus involves being adopted into God’s family. This is why fellow Christians are referred to as brothers and sisters. It is a spiritual family that will last forever, unlike our blood relations.
The people of the church are called ambassadors for Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:20). The church is an outpost, an embassy for the coming Kingdom of God. You must be an American citizen to be an American diplomat. So also, you must be a true citizen of the Kingdom of God in order to be an ambassador, a member in God’s church. Diplomats are removed if they do not represent our country well. So also, the church member who chooses to stop representing the Kingdom of God via unrepentant sin becomes unqualified to be a diplomat, a church member. Such disqualification to retain church membership does not mean one is not welcome to visit the embassy, but it does mean one is disqualified to be an ambassador at the embassy; more on this later in this series.
Who are the people of the church? Sinners, who have been undeservingly forgiven by God, reconciled to God, and made a new creation through faith in Jesus Christ, set apart to act as God’s children and ambassadors to the world.
Matthew Homan is the pastor of Eureka Baptist Church. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.