› A Reformed People
It's time for a new reformation in the Church! As with former times of reformation this involves the Church ensuring that the truth of God's Word is not only preached in its fullness, but is also being expressed in the lives of believers.
Sadly, in recent years, we have seen many who call themselves Christians drifting away from the scriptures, failing to recognise the authority of what God has revealed as the Truth. Others have overemphasised some popular aspects of the New Testament, but have failed to teach the absolute necessity to obey the commands of Jesus out of love for Him. Yet the Lord has given His Spirit to believers for this very purpose!
The light can only shine out of the Church if God's children are walking in the light themselves - living as the children of light. Jesus said that His light was to shine out of believers so that others would see their good works and so give glory to the heavenly Father. We are not saved by good works but by the grace of God alone. However, if we are saved, our lives will be full of the evidence of our salvation; the good works that the Holy Spirit does through us! It is these works that bear witness to the world that God is at work among His people.
Jesus is emphatic that everyone will have to pass through the time of judgment when each person's works will be tested by fire. Our own works will be burnt up and will not survive the testing, but those things that God's Spirit has done through us will reap an eternal reward. This is why Jesus promises that each one will be rewarded in heaven for what he or she has done.
So we want to produce the works of God's life, love and power; the works of His grace in our lives. Jesus says that people will be recognised for what they are by the fruit that they bear (Matthew 7:16), or in other words by the works of His mercy and grace that are evidenced in their lives. The good tree will bear good fruit and cannot bear bad fruit, whereas the bad tree cannot bear good fruit.
Ultimately it is the nature of the heart that will determine the fruit each believer produces. Jesus said that He had a humble and gentle heart, even though He was the Man of great authority and power. We are to have hearts after His own heart. So the humble believer is readily submitted to God's will and therefore to His Word being outworked in practical ways in their life. They are not proud, judgmental or critical. They do not easily take offence, but are full of mercy, compassion and forgiveness. They recognise that God had been so merciful and gracious to them, that this is the way they are to treat others.
Those who truly desire to live as Jesus' disciples do not want to deliberately grieve Him by failing to love others with the same love with which Jesus has loved them. After all, Jesus said that if we love Him we will obey His commands (John 14:15). To suggest that obedience does not matter because we are already saved is clearly deception, and is a total contradiction to what Jesus has said. Such deception will inevitably lead to compromise in the lives of believers, and so in the witness of the Church. And this takes us to the heart of the problem: compromise is much more attractive than obedience - unless you truly love Jesus!
A reformed Church will be an obedient Church because it will consist of those who truly love Jesus and so desire to fulfil His plan and purpose for their lives, and for the whole Body of Christ. This will not be legalistic obedience to a set of religious rules and regulations, but an obedience motivated by an overwhelming love for Jesus and for people. For if we do not love those who we do see, we cannot love God who we do not see!
A reformed Church will not compromise God's will, but will demonstrate love in action - not a sentiment or emotion but a practical love that produces practical fruit. A love that can be seen by the good works motivated by the Holy Spirit and filled with His eternal life and power.
So a reformed Church will consist of a people of true love, but also of faith. Believers will appreciate that they can only fulfil the purposes of God through trust in Him and by depending on the anointing of His Spirit that God has given to His beloved children. A people of light will be a people of love, of faith, of obedience and of fruitfulness. In other words, they will live for God's glory rather than simply trying to use God for their own ends! It will be their joy to live to please the Lord by allowing Him to work in and through them in the ways that He desires.
Yet as they seek first God's sovereign rule and reign in their lives, and seek to do what is right in His eyes, so He will meet every need in their lives, as Jesus has promised. The more we encounter Him as believers the more He will do in us. This in turn will affect the level of our fruitfulness.
As we gather together at Faith Camp 2014 in just a few weeks time, I believe that this is going to be a week of encountering God in His Word and in the power of His Spirit, to enable the greater fruitfulness that will glorify them. For the fruit of this time is to be that we will be doers of the Word, and not hearers only!