The centrality of Christ is paramount in our Christian living. Apart from him we are nothing. As Jesus put it, He is the vine and we are the branches, and apart from him we can do nothing. Paul used the phrase “in Christ” 164 times in his writings. Our faith is in Christ, we repent to bring our life into the lifestyle of Christ, we confess our faith in Christ, we are baptized into Christ, we live in Christ, our fellowship is in Christ. Too long we have preached things, systems, plans and programs and none of them amount to anything apart from Christ.
But what does it mean to be “in Christ”? That phrase and the reality that it describes is so rich that no book or library of books can totally capture their meaning. In fact, it takes the entire New Testament to describe the various aspects of being in Christ – the promise, the reality, the provisions and the person and the potentialities of it. To be in is to be in. It is positional. It is not just knowledge about Christ, it is a position in Christ. To be in Christ is not to be in a doctrine, or in a place, or in an idea, or in a philosophy, it is to be in a person. To be in Christ is to be living in Him.
Know this: being in Him affects my relationship with the Father and His children. Christ in me is potential power. With Him I can change. I can be made new. In Christ means devotion to His family. I can’t feud, fuss and fight with God’s children while growing in Christ.
To be in Christ speaks of perspective. He is the center of our lives. Many people who claim to have no creed but Christ, have a lot of “unwritten creeds” that determine the decisions they make. It is time that we try to practice, “no creed but Christ.”
We are in Christ to be in the world for God. In Christ let us penetrate culture for God. Let’s give this world back to God who created it. In Christ the light that is in us is greater than the darkness that is in the world; the acceptance that is in us is greater than the prejudices that are in the world – because He who is in us is greater than he who is in the world.
We must begin with a very serious question – “Is CHRIST IN ME?”
Via East Brainerd Church of Christ
BARNABAS, A GREAT EXAMPLE OF A CHRISTIAN
Barnabas – an example of the honesty of heart necessary to change religions in order to be saved. Barnabas was a “Levite” (Acts 4:36), thus of the priestly tribe of the Old Testament. But he obeyed the gospel of Jesus Christ, which is the only way to be saved today (Acts 4:12).
Barnabas – an example of dedication of heart and generosity of hand in Christian giving. He even sold his land and gave the money to help in the Lord’s cause (Acts 4:37).
Barnabas – a Christian example in encouraging. He was so outstanding in this grace that he was called the “Son of Consolation” (KJV) and “Son of Encouragement.” (NKJV). (Acts 4:36).
Barnabas – an example of Christian confidence in men. He showed such in Paul and in John Mark (Acts 9:27; 15:36-41)
Barnabas – an example of a Christian without racial prejudice. He was qualified (though a Jew) to work among the Gentiles (Acts 11:22-24). Had a prejudiced man been chosen, Antioch would have been hindered.
Barnabas – a Christian capable of getting the right man with the right church at the right time to best serve God’s plan on earth. He went and found Paul, and “he brought him unto Antioch.” (Acts 11:25, 26).
Barnabas—an example of Christian conduct that caused all to put their confidence in him. He was selected to carry relief to Judea, and he fulfilled that ministry (Acts 11:30; 12:25). He was trusted by the churches, apostles, the Holy Spirit, and by God.
Barnabas – a Christian example of qualifying self to be selected by the Holy Spirit to preach in foreign fields (Acts 13:1-4). Barnabas was “bold” in the face of persecution (Acts 13:46). He was referred to as an apostle, that is “one sent with a commission,” by the Antioch church (Acts 14:14).
Barnabas – a Christian example of gracefully taking second place. First, it was “Barnabas and Paul” (Acts 13:7), but it came to be “Paul and Barnabas” (Acts 15:35). This is hard for a church leader to do.
Barnabas – a Christian example of helping (not hindering) in brotherhood problems. He went to Jerusalem and helped bring about the peaceful agreements reached there, secured letters of peace, and went to deliver the same to the churches (Acts 15).
Barnabas—an example of a Christian man who was human in that he erred in judgment and action as is recorded in Galatians 2:13. But, being a “good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith” (Acts 11:24), Barnabas would surely repent as all Christians must do when they sin.
Barnabas – a Christian “fit for the Master’s use, prepared unto every good work” (2 Timothy 2:21). Barnabas is an example for Christians to imitate. “Imitate not that which is evil, but that which is good.” (3 John 11)
L. E. Wishum Via Forest Park church of Christ 12/25/1986
LET’S PREACH FEAR
One of the strange phenomena of our day is the spectacle of religion dropping the appeal to fear while other human interests have picked it up. Just look around. Everybody is preaching fear except the church.
We are being taught to fear everything from AIDS to radon, from the hole in the ozone to the cutting down of rain forests. We see fear as a good thing – something worthwhile and productive. In the words of Burke, “Early and provident fear is the mother of safety.” We are sold on fear. (And think of these last two years plus with covid).
We want people to fear – except when it comes to religion. Then it becomes a “no-no.” We are enjoined to talk exclusively about the love of God. Don’t mention the wrath of God. Don’t talk about hell. Don’t warn the disobedient, just love them. So don’t preach the fear of God. And, like the Gentiles of old, we do not honor him as God, or gives thanks to him,
The words of Jesus come to mind. “But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear him.” (Luke 12:5).
If we are wise, we would heed to admonition of the apostle Peter. He reminds us that God is holy, and that we are to be holy in all our conduct. Furthermore, we need to remember that God judges each on impartiality according to his deeds. Then Peter says, “…conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile “ (1Peter 1:15-17).
Living in fear. It’s the Christian thing to do.
John Gipson Little Rock AR.
The above article makes the valid point that we are to fear God.
The word “fear” is sometimes used in Scripture to discuss the idea of reverence toward God. The other sense is the one with which we are most familiar. It is the “shaking in your boots” fear of being judged by God.
We must have reverence toward God. To many have lost reverence for God, and it shows in attitudes that suggest that God does not have the right to tell us what to do, nor does he have the right to judge mankind. They dismiss the idea of hell and believe in a god of their making. Such is not God as he has revealed himself in Scripture.
For the Christian, however, we should not fear that God is out to get us and send us to hell. Jesus died on the cross to save us from sin – any and every sin we commit. We must trust his word and obey the gospel to be saved, and we must continue to walk in his word. When we sin we can know that when we repent and ask for forgiveness he will grant that unto us, not because we deserve it, but because Jesus took care of it on the cross.
We should NEVER presume upon God’s grace. We should never think, “Well, I will go ahead and sin and ask for forgiveness later.” Sin cost Jesus his blood – his life here on earth. Christians should never minimize sin in their lives, dismiss it or ignore it. We must weep in sorrow over our sin and what it cost God and His Son to take care of it. We must repent of the sin, which means we sin no more, and we change our lives so that we are in accordance with God’s will.
Eternal punishment is real! No sane, thinking person who really understands this would ever want to be a part of it. “The worse thing about hell is that God is not there!”
SO YOU’RE TO BUSY!
A businessman, harassed and discouraged, went to a psychiatrist who promptly told him to do less work. “Furthermore,” prescribed the doctor, “I want you to spend an hour each day in the cemetery.” “What on earth for?” “Not much,” replied the doctor. “Take it easy and look around. Notice the names of those there permanently and remember they did not finish their work either. Nobody does, you know.”
It is true, isn’t it? Sometimes we get so involved in so many responsibilities and affairs of life, we feel we have no time for faithful worship of God, no time for anything but “making a living,” or “taking care of the family.” “Just can’t make the time,” we say. Oh yes you can. And furthermore, some day you will make the time, and permanently. And the world will go right on as it has for these thousands of years, without countless thousands who, like you, thought they just had to attend to too many matters before God.
“For what is your life? It is even a vapor, that appears for a little time, and then vanishes away.” James 4:14
The Visitor, Adamsville AL.