Christian at the Cross
Theology & Worldview

Back to the Basics

I originally intended to write about Ecclesiastes and Philippians, but the words would not flow, partially because I simply did not spend enough time with God and His Word, and partially because when I did, I often could not focus—I had forgotten the basics. One night as I lay in my bed, I wondered, “Why can’t I write it? What am I doing wrong?”

That’s when three questions popped into my head: What has Jesus done? What is He doing? And what will He do?

Also, what am I doing about all this?

We need to continually turn back to these basic (but important!) questions as we live in this world, because, whether we admit it or not, the basics are often the first things we forget. And as long as we sin, we desperately need to return to the basics of the gospel and God’s Word.

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Part 1: What Has Jesus Done?

“but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Romans 5:8 ESV

Take a look at your Bible: God has done everything in there for you.

He created man in His image so that you may share even a fragmented fragment of him—you can create, you can choose, and you can dream (Gen. 1:27). When man chose to sin, He allowed him to live nonetheless, keeping you in mind (Gen. 3). As time passed, man wandered further and further from God. Man rejected Him and sinned boastfully in His face. Yet God remembered His covenant and loved them still. He had a plan for them, for the world, and for you (Jer. 29:11).

Jesus came to fulfill that plan (Matt 5:17; Luke 24:27). The very night Jesus entered the world as a baby humbly born in a stable, an angel appeared to certain shepherds, declaring, “…behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11). Jesus had come to give us life (John 10:10). He taught, healed, and loved us, but we killed Him (Acts 2:23). Yet the last words Jesus spoke were “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). Jesus died that we may have life (Heb. 10:10). Three days after His death, He resurrected and ascended to heaven (Luke 24). Before He returned to heaven, Jesus commanded His disciples to spread the gospel to the whole world and promised that He would always be with them (Matt. 28:18-20). The disciples did so. The church grew. And here we are today.

So what are you going to do about it?

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“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”
Romans 8:28 ESV

Take a look at your life. If you are a Christian, God has worked every detail of your life out for your good and His glory. That is your testimony.

Paul briefly outlined his testimony to Timothy in 1 Timothy 1:12-17: 

“I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen”
(ESV; for a more detailed account check out Acts 22:1-20).

Paul’s account gives us four components of a testimony:

  1.     Who you were before (v. 13)
  • “a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent,” “foremost [of sinners]”
  • Paul emphasized that he was completely unworthy and even the foremost of sinners. Paul, who was a Pharisee of Pharisees, zealous adherent of the law, realized that, for all his effort, nothing he could do by himself would ever be good in God’s eyes (Phil. 3:8). We too need to realize that all our righteousness is like filthy rags, that before God sought us out, we were dead (Isa. 64:6).
  1.     God’s grace and mercy (vv. 14-15)
  • “…the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.”
  • Paul knew that Jesus had sought him out, not the other way round. Out of His wonderful love and mercy, Jesus chose him. As Paul wrote in another letter, “…by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is a gift of God” (Eph. 2:8 ESV).
  1.     Who you are now (v.16)
  • “that in me… Jesus Christ may display his perfect patience as an example…”
  • If you know Paul’s story (if not, see Acts 22), Paul indeed became an example. He turned from a prominent persecutor of Christians to an outspoken ambassador of Christ, as Ananias told Paul when he first became a believer, “The God of our fathers appointed you to know his will, to see the Righteous One, and to hear a voice from his mouth, for you will be a witness for him to everyone of what you have seen and heard.”
  • Your story should be like Paul’s in the sense that you can see the contrast between your old self and your new self distinctly. If you cannot, take some time to examine yourself and turn to God to see what is wrong, because a real Christian bears fruit.
  1.     Jesus-focused overall (He’s mentioned 6 times, underlined.)
  • This is the most important attribute of any testimony, for, as you may have noticed, the only reason we’re not dying in hell and the only reason we can meet God face-to-face one day is Jesus. 

“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.”
1 John 3:1 ESV

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Challenge:

Live it — You have probably heard this question several times before, but are you living like a Christian? Where are you lacking? Where are you thriving? Is there a noticeable difference between your life and the life of an unbeliever?

Take a look at the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23): Is each one evident in your life? Yes? No? Maybe? How specifically can you allow the Holy Spirit to work in you to bear these fruits?

Commit to prayer, studying God’s Word, and seeking his direction daily. Spiritual disciplines like these can have an immense impact on our daily lives.

Have fellow believers supporting and helping you along. If you don’t already have a small group of fellow believers in whom you can trust and rely on, make one. Build each other up. Hold each other accountable. Grow in Christ together.

If Jesus were to walk into the room, how much of your life would you be ashamed of?

Share it — Share the gospel and your testimony with someone who needs it this week.

Perhaps one of the hardest things to do is to get out there and just proclaim your faith, whether to your co-worker, your classmate, your neighbor, or your friend. But one thing I have learned is that if you just depend wholly on Jesus, He can work wonders (plus, it is never as scary as you make it out to be). 

Whom has God placed on your heart to share the good news with?

Spend some time praying about these two things.

 

For Worship and Contemplation:

“How Deep the Father’s Love for Us”
“Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing”

Verse Spotlight:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.
Ephesians 1:3-4 ESV

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Featured Image: https://www.agosto-foundation.org/john-bunyan

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