Sunday, June 28, 2015

First Steps

 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.    1 John 1:9  NKJV

The past few weeks the Spirit has been leading me to explore the true meaning of being a believer in Christ, and what is expected of us when we make that decision to accept His gift to us and begin to follow Him.  Last week we examined the meaning of Paul’s instruction to Titus that he should adorn the doctrine of God.  I mentioned the importance of checking our spiritual makeup, and to be honest, as I did so it occurred to me mine could use a little work, so to speak.  So, more than willing to admit I was not familiar with applying makeup, I did the logical thing and called one of my daughters for advice.

Although it might seem logical to some, the first step is the most important one and that is to make sure your face is as clean as you can get it.  As I considered that, the first thing that came to my mind, especially because I don’t use makeup, was the paint job I attempted to do on my truck a few years ago.  My truck is what you might call a “project” truck, which I have been working to restore since I purchased it.  When the time came to paint, I did the body work, sanded and primed the surface, and finally applied the paint.  I must admit it turned out better than I imagined and I received more than a few compliments.  So imagine my surprise and consternation when after six months or so the paint began to bubble and flake off!

I deliver parts to a few body shops in town as part of my job, so I humbly confessed my problems to them and the explanation from all of them was the same.  Before I painted, I neglected to wash off the truck to remove all of the residue which might have been left over from my preparation work.  You see, without being perfectly clean, the paint would not stick.  Our spiritual makeup works the same.  We start out by confessing our sins to the Father and He in turn promises to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  Trying to put on spiritual makeup, without first confessing our sin and becoming a true believer, might give a good appearance but will eventually fall off and what is really underneath will be exposed.

For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.  1 Corinthians 3:11  NKJV

According to my daughter, the second step in putting on your makeup is to apply what is generally called the “foundation”.  Now I may not be familiar with applying makeup, but I do know a thing or two about building and construction.  My father was a part-time carpenter as was my grandfather before him. My first real job was as a carpenter's apprentice, and I have worked as a carpenter off and on my entire life. So it goes without saying that I enjoy the fact that Jesus was a carpenter, especially if you consider that God chose for Him to be born to a carpenter rather than to an earthly father with any other trade.

One of the very first things I learned as a carpenter was how important the foundation is to whatever it is you intend to build. What could be called the carpenter's golden rule is that you must have a strong, perfectly level foundation on which to build. Working as a framer on many large housing projects gave me ample opportunity to build on foundations others had laid, and I can tell you from experience that a poor foundation affects the entire construction process. I'm sure that Jesus was well aware of this rule, and I think it comes as no surprise that it is reflected in what Jesus had to say about building His Church.

“Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: “and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.    Matthew 7:24-25  NKJV

"And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.    Matthew 16:18 NKJV

As we consider our spiritual makeup, the foundation we build on, which is what everything else rests on, is our faith in the person of Jesus Christ and our acceptance of His sacrifice for our sin. If our foundation is flawed, it will affect everything else we may try to apply.  Jesus tells us two things here. One, the foundation of His church is built upon a rock so strong that not even Satan can move it. Two, He tells us exactly what that foundation is and if we look back just two verses we see what Jesus is referring to;

Simon Peter answered and said, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."  Matthew 16:16 NKJV

You see, the Church is made up of those who choose to believe that Jesus was, and is the Son of God. When an individual chooses to accept this fact, and acknowledges that Jesus died for their sins, they then become “Christians”, or one of those who believe that Jesus was indeed the Son of God sent to this earth to die for our sins, and to then rise from the dead so that we too could have eternal life. From that point on, the true believer seeks to follow all that we are taught by the Word and by the Holy Spirit. Jesus describes His followers this way;

"Whoever comes to Me, and hears My sayings and does them, I will show you whom he is like: "He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock.      Luke 6:47,48 NKJV

Unfortunately, Satan has done a very good job in creating flawed foundations for the world to choose from. Have you watched the news lately?  There are those today who seem to want to alter, or modify the very foundation God has laid for us. Yet the Word of God makes it clear that there is only one foundation strong enough to stand for eternity, and the Apostle Paul reminds us of what it is in his letter to the Corinthians.

For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.         1 Corinthians 3:11 NKJV

True believers need look no further than the events of this past week to see how ready this world is to accept a flawed foundation.  Have you chosen to accept His sacrifice and payment for your sin, or is your life built upon an imperfect foundation laid by man? If you want to build your house on a foundation that will last for eternity, you can do that right now. Simply understand this; First you need to confess you are a sinner who needs a Savior. The Bible tells us we all have sinned and failed to live up to God's standards. Second you need to understand that God sent His Son, Jesus, to die on the cross for your sins. There is no way we can save ourselves, so God chose to send Jesus to pay the price for our sins. Third, and most important, you need to turn away from your sin and accept this payment by asking Jesus to come into your life and to help you begin to build on the foundation He has made for you.

God has promised to cleanse us from our sins, and has provided the foundation we need to move to the next step in applying the spiritual makeup which will reflect His love to an unbelieving world.

Keep watching.