The Word is Near You

The word is near you, on your lips and in your heart” (Romans 10:8 & Deuteronomy 30:14)

What is the main goal of Christianity? Is it to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ to the ends of the earth?  Is it to convert large numbers of people to Christianity?  Is it to establish the physical kingdom of God here on earth to prepare for the Lord’s return?  Is it to have a positive impact on our communities by performing miracles of healings and deliverance and thus impacting our world? I would say that it is none of these.

The main goal of Christianity, as clearly expressed in the Scriptures, is to prepare the bride of Christ, His church, for His return.  This preparation is focused on the Christian’s character.  It is to be one of holiness, righteousness and purity.  It is to be patterned after the character of Jesus.  We are to have His nature.  It is ultimately to be a character of godly, spiritual love.  The main goal of Christianity is for us to love God and to love one another.

As I read through the New Testament teachings of Jesus and the letters of the apostles to the churches I see either a direct building up of this godly character or a protecting of this character from being corrupted by false teachings.

In the Old Testament there is also a clear statement of this same goal as represented by the adherence to the Law of Moses.  Remember that love is the fulfillment of the law: Romans 13:10 “Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.” The Israelites were unable to reach the goal of love or of having a godly, righteous character because they focused on obeying the set of rules that were defined in the Law.  The goal was good, but their means of reaching the goal was erroneous: Romans 9:31-33 “..but that Israel who pursued the righteousness which is based on law did not succeed in fulfilling that law.  Why? Because they did not pursue it through faith, but as if it were based on works.  They stumbled over the stumbling stone, as it is written, ‘Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone that will make men stumble, a rock that will make them fall; and he who believes in him will not be put to shame.’”

In summary, the goal is love, and you can only reach this goal if you pursue it through faith. Romans 10 goes on to explain this further: Romans 10:6-10 “But the righteousness based on faith says, Do not say in your heart ‘who will ascend into heaven?’ (that is, to bring Christ down) or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’ (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? The word is near you, on your lips and in your heart (that is, the word of faith which we preach); because, if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For man believes with his heart and so is justified, and he confesses with his lips and so is saved.”

Faith must be combined with the truth.  As it says later in Romans 10 (vs. 17) “So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes by the preaching of Christ.” We believe in the message of the Gospel that Jesus conquered death, was raised up and then ascended up to heaven. Additionally, the message of the Gospel states that we can join Him in this victory over death and entrance into Heaven.  If we die with Him now to this world, we will be raised up as He was with a new immortal body and will ascend to meet Him and be with Him in Heaven.  This is a transforming message.  If we make this a reality in our minds, it changes us.  We become focused on spiritual things rather than earthly things.  This transforming message of truth becomes a part of the way that we think and the way that we speak.  It is in our hearts and minds, and it is on our lips.  It becomes our life, our food, our reason to live.

This is how we pursue righteousness through faith.  We allow the message of the Gospel to permeate our lives and thinking so that our character is transformed.  The law becomes written on our hearts so that we don’t need to have a written list of rules to follow but we will naturally do what is required because we have a heart of love.  This heart of love is a result of shifting our hope from this world to heaven; from shifting our affections from pleasing ourselves to pleasing God.  True faith makes us spiritual, and thus produces in us a character of true, godly, spiritual love.

This is a gradual work that must be maintained as we live out our lives here on this earth until we are either taken from this world or remain until Jesus returns.  We must patiently endure in this faith and allow the transformation and renewal of our minds so that we can prove our faith and produce this love in our hearts.  It is also the work of older, mature Christians to encourage the younger, maturing Christians in this character building exercise and walk of faith.  It’s not easy, especially when we are hit with the trials and temptations of this life.  It is important to remember the main goal of love, and to also remember that faith in the message of truth is the means of attaining that goal.  Keep the Word close to your heart, in your mind and on your lips.  Keep Jesus, the living Word, also close.  This is the true path to victory as a Christian.  Jesus is the way, the truth and the life.  He is our source of power, joy, fulfillment, success and ultimately, eternal life.

The spreading of the Gospel and gaining of new converts, as well as the working of miracles, will come naturally as the Lord leads and according to His will.  It is more likely that God will use a vessel that has been purified and is holy and righteous to do this spiritual work.  Focus on love and be open to the moving of the Holy Spirit for spreading His Word and using His power.

Amen.

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