“Caught And Cleaned”
September 19, 2012
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“Caught And Cleaned”
This past weekend in our Sunday School class we discussed the importance of we being a church that reaches out to the lost and welcomes them into the congregation. Our teacher, Stan, using the “fishers of men” Scripture pointed out that we need to catch and then clean, rather than clean them before the catch. He was speaking of the lost condition people are in when they come into the church having lived for years in disobedience to God. We shouldn’t require them to “clean up” before coming and hearing the Gospel.
I certainly agree with that premise, but in the discussion I pointed out that once they come into the church and are converted we do need to clean them (using ”clean” to continue the “fishers of men” theme). Of course ultimately it’s the Lord’s work in both catching and cleaning, but the faithful church will teach that the normative result of genuine conversion (being caught) is a spiritual transformation (being cleaned)!
It is my observation that this is often lacking in the modern church today. In far too many cases people come in but are often not challenged to change and clean up. Some church leadership expects that once the new “fish” becomes a part of the congregation and takes on responsibility he or she will be changed by being around the more mature “fish”. Challenging them personally to forsake the ways of the world is seen by many as being intolerant, judgmental and unloving.
A certain minister excused sinful behavior by accounting for it in terms of “infantile environment, traumatic experiences, psychological complexes and the like.”
We can make excuses and give fancy names to sinful behavior and prolong its poisonous effect, but genuine love will call people to obedience in accordance to Biblical standards of holiness which is increasingly contrary to the standards of the world.
Last week we were visiting with Mike and Kathy, friends who went to the University of Maine in the late sixties. Kathy recalled during the years she went to college there was a strict curfew and other expectations regarding standards of behavior that would seem archaic to college campuses today. And this in a secular northeastern college!
Behavioral standards have eroded drastically during our lifetime which is evident in the lives of people coming into our churches, if we are catching the lost. We must welcome them and declare God’s love, grace and forgiveness. But we also must declare the whole counsel of God, which includes a call to obedience in accordance to the Biblical standards of holiness. That’s a vital role of the faithful church.
We really like an invitation song titled, “Come Just As You Are”. In God’s redemption plan we don’t clean up our act or change before we come to Jesus. Instead we come just as we are, call out to Him in faith and repent of our sin. God saves us and then we undergo the scrub brush of the Holy Spirit that, instantaneously and over one’s lifetime, purges the remnants of a life that once was lost in sin.
In salvation something wonderful happens, gloriously expressed by the Apostle Paul in the first daily text: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Come just as you are.
Come and see, come receive,
Come and live forever.
And strength for today.
Taste the Living Water,
And never thirst again.
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, You have commissioned us, as believers, to reach the lost, inviting them to surrender their lives to Jesus and receive forgiveness of sins. It is at their point of surrender that we witness the supernatural working of the Holy Spirit; cleansing, restoring, purging, and maturing the young believer toward good works in Christ. We thank You for the cleansing work of the Holy Spirit at work in each of us who come to faith, equipping us with the endurance and perseverance needed to walk our journey of faith in the midst of an increasingly hostile and unaccepting society. It is through Jesus that we come to You in prayer. Amen.
“Preaching On Sin” Here is a longer article I wrote several years ago on this topic.
The Precept online study commentary states regarding this point: God’s grace provides our eternal salvation as well as our efficacious enablement to know life more abundantly and is available for our every problem and need. Sadly there are those who advance the fallacious argument that since God’s grace covers all our sins, then we are free to live as we please. Wrong!
Yes, it is absolute sound (healthy) doctrine that God’s grace provides for our freedom, but the other side of that doctrinal coin is that the very same amazing grace is God’s provision to free believing sinners from slavery to the selfish, sinful nature in order that we might pursue “every good work” and become all that God intends us to be in Christ Jesus our Lord. We are to be His trophies of grace as it were to a lost and dying world who might see in and through us the Father’s provision of salvation flowing from His throne of grace. See here.
Last Friday afternoon we passed this Lebanon County Amish farm, a scene I always enjoy, especially on wash day with the long pulley-style clothesline running from the house to the barn. See here for larger photo.
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