John T. Willis

Friday, July 24, 2015

Majoring in Minors--VIII

Throughout history, God's people have focused on specific issues and lost the big picture of God's work in the world and God's plan for human beings. Here are only a few reminders of this spiritual myopia.

1. Baptism.
    a. When I first became a Christian at the age of 14, the preacher emphasized the necessity of being baptized by immersion for the forgiveness of sins. He stressed the importance of Acts 2:38; 22:16; Romans 6:3-4. It is true that God wants all people to be baptized by immersion for the remission of sins. But there is much more to Christian living than being baptized.
    b. 1 Corinthians 1:14-17 troubles many Christian people. Here Paul said:
            "I thank God that I baptized non of you except Crispus and Gaius,
              so that no one can say that you were baptized in my name.
              (I did baptized also the household of Stephanas;
              beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized anyone else.)
              For Christ did not sent me to baptize
              and not with eloquent wisdom, so that the cross of Christ might not be emptied of its power."
    c. Obviously, many early Christians focused on their baptism rather than focusing on the cross of Christ. It is very easy for each one of us to turn in on ourselves rather than keep our hearts and minds on Christ--his incarnation, his life, his death, his burial, his resurrection, and his continuing work in the lives of human beings throughout eternity.

2. Conversion from sin.
     a. When a person was not raised in a Christian family and in time realized that he or she was a sinner, that person need to be converted from sin to God. Texts like 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10;
1 Timothy 1:12-17; and related passages show the importance of conversion from sin. At the same time, Christian living is much more than being converted.
     b. Most of life has to do with being formed in the image of Christ, which takes a lifetime to occur. Paul writes to Christians who were already converted from sin to God in Galatians 4:19: "My little children, for whom I am again in the pain of childbirth UNTIL CHRIST IS FORMED IN YOU." Roman 12:1-2 contains the same thought: "DO NOT BE CONFORMED TO THIS WORLD, BUT BE TRANSFORMED BY THE RENEWING OF YOUR MINDS."
     c. The history of the Church of Christ denomonation has been plagued by denying what they have called "social religion." As a result of this, numerous Church of Christ churches have denounced the importance of working to help needy people. They have refused to help needy people UNLESS they listen to their message and be baptized by immersion for the remission of sins. It is clear that Jesus would NEVER entertain such an idea. God through Jesus Christ is PRIMARILY concerned with the needs of people. The ONLY TASK of God's people on earth is to try to help and support and encourage people in distress, in hardship, in severe disease, in setbacks, in needs of all kind.

3. The Lord's Supper.
    a. Jesus instituted the Lord's Supper shortly before he was arrested and crucified. He told God's people to commemorate this until he returns in his Second Coming. So keeping the Lord's Supper, the Eucharist, is very important. See Matthew 26:26-29; Luke 22:14-23; 1 Corinthians 11:17-34. At the same time, observing the Lord's Supper is ONLY a small aspect of Christian living.
     b. One can partake of the Lord's Supper physically without having a true heart. How does a person live during the week? How does one treat a "foreigner," a "rejected individual," like the so-called "Good Samaritan." The Jews denounced Samaritans. They were not acceptable to them. Luke
     c. One can USE the Lord's Supper to condemn others. A classic example of this is John Calvin. He opposed the understanding of a fellow-Christian named Servetus, and Calvin was so powerful at that time in Geneva, he had Servetus executed because of his understanding of the Lord's Supper. It is very difficult for me to accept the idea of DEBATING over the Lord's Supper. What an oxymoron!!!

Share YOUR concepts and reversals and insights and fears and experiences with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis


  • Dr. Willis:
    Thank you so much for this essay--and others--you have written and published on your blog. So thoughtful and insightful.

    By Blogger Mark, at 9:01 AM  

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