Christianity is in its nature the Gospel of grace. There is forgiveness in Jesus. There is understanding in Jesus. But we must never do away with standards and expectations. We must never do away with consequences and repercussions for our actions and behaviors. There is a bar. This bar is not one of perfection but it is one of Holiness.
The Gospel of grace understands our fallen nature, but we must never take the grace of God lightly. We are extended grace in Jesus Christ not to be forgiven repeatedly for our sins but to be forgiven once and for all of our debt. To be a Christian there must be a commitment to change. To be a Christian there must be an ongoing revelation of Fruit. Our lives should be a living testimony of the power of Christ to change what seemed impossible to change. It should magnify the glory and beauty of Jesus Christ. It is Christ IN us.
The love of Jesus does not condone sin, and to live in sin is to stand in opposition to the Lord, Jesus. We must have a standard. We must know what that standard is. And when we see that a brother or sister is not living a life worthy of the name of Jesus, we must address it. Not with a heart of judgment or self-righteousness, but with the heart of Christ that never left a soul to believe that they were in no need of what he came to bring them. The Gospel is one of grace, love and understanding. We will never be perfect and we will never be completely free of the sinful flesh until we are with Him and made to be like Him. But a standard still remains. The standard is THE Gospel. If we claim the name of Christ and therefore proclaim unity with the Son, we must bear the fruit of the Son. He is the standard. He is the Way. To represent Him means to reveal Him. If we are not revealing Jesus then we must question if we authentically represent Him in spirit or in name alone.
The standard of the cross is not there to loom over us, casting a long shadow of hopelessness and intimidation. The standard of the cross keeps us moving. It keeps us safe. It keeps us alive. Without the standard and without accountability to hold to the standard, we die.
The life of a Christian must be one of ongoing forward motion. We must always be growing, developing and transforming. Stagnation and plateau are not from the Lord. The lies of the enemy promote such things. From the beginning, the enemy has been insisting that we believe the lie that we are in no need of God and our condition is in no need of transformation and change. But we are. Jesus Christ did not come to affirm our present condition. He came to correct it. He came to heal it. He came to mend what was broken. The Kingdom of God is near! Repent and believe in the good news! It is inevitable that we will be hard-pressed on every side in this world. However, it is a promise that the Kingdom of God is with us in Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. He is with us to defend us, comfort us and bless us. It is inevitable that our sinful nature will fight to the very end insisting that we are in no need of correction and change. However, the Holy and Living God is calling us to a new life, to be reborn and remade in the image of his Son, Jesus. It is inevitable that the enemy will persistently disrupt our joy with trials, suffering, grief and hardship. However, the good news is not that we will flourish in this life but that in Jesus our presence with him in his Kingdom for eternity is made all the more sure through such things. Defend the truths of the Gospel in your life. Protect them and foster them. Read them, speak them, sing them, meditate on them, share them, and proclaim them in all that you do. Never stray from knowing the Gospel and sharing in the suffering and glory of Jesus Christ.
The end is coming. The end will be sudden. The end will usher in the justice of the Lord. The end will be terrifying for many. The end will usher in the creation of the New Heaven and the New Earth. Regarding the end of all things, there is nothing else to be said of any importance now. The present should be consumed with the following questions: Do you know Jesus? Do you know him personally, intimately, and confidently? Do you have unity and fellowship with him through your obedience to his word and his Gospel? Do you proclaim the truth of Jesus in your daily life by the Fruit of his Spirit?
This is our life as Christians. This life enables us to be focused on the task in front of us and not on the things that are unimportant and distract us from our calling. The end will come suddenly; the life of the Christian should be so filled by the answers to the previous questions that there is no fear of the end and no doubt that eternal unity with God through the inheritance of Jesus Christ will be our portion. Do everything you can NOW to make your election sure. Ask these questions every day. Know the answers and know that they place you assuredly on the side of Christ. This is to be our life’s concern and work. View everything else as a distraction and opposition to the life Christ has called you into. Your daily bread should sustain you and overwhelm you each day that thoughts of things we cannot and should not claim to know fall by the wayside, leaving us ever focused on the true task at hand. “Follow me.” And follow him we shall. Follow him, listen to him, love him and dedicate your daily life to these things.