[forthright] The Gospel/Honorable Conduct

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From: Forthright Magazine <forthrightmag@...>
Date: Sun, 17 Sep 2006 15:31:06 -0500
Forthright Magazine
http://www.forthright.net
Straight to the Cross

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The Gospel by Phil Sanders
Honorable Conduct by Michael Brooks
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COLUMN: From Friend to Friend

The Gospel
by Phil Sanders

The Gospel!

"But how are they to call on him in whom they have
not believed? And how are they to believe in him
of whom they have never heard? And how are they to
hear without someone preaching? And how are they
to preach unless they are sent? As it is written,
'How beautiful are the feet of those who preach
the good news!'" (Romans 10:14,15)

There are many things that lead to the salvation
of the soul. The love and faith of good parents,
the sacrifice of teachers in Bible class, speakers
at retreats and camp, and preachers of the gospel.

How we need the gospel. Everyone likes to hear
good news, and there is simply no better news than
the good news of the gospel. It is good news of
salvation, of hope, of life beyond this life, of
freedom from the enslavement of sin, of an
inheritance in heaven, of a caring Father, and of
a loving Savior.

The good news tells us of redemption,
reconciliation, justification, and sanctification.
Big words indeed, but so important. The good news
is that Jesus shed his blood to purchase or redeem
us from sin so that we could have that barrier
broken down and become friends again (reconcile).
In that reconciliation through his blood we are
declared righteous (justified) and made holy
(sanctified).

In salvation, we have left the death of sin to be
alive in the Lord. We have crucified the old man
of sin so that we might walk in newness of life.
In salvation we have been transferred out of the
domain of darkness into the kingdom of his beloved
Son Jesus. As children of God, we are now heirs of
God, and fellow-heirs of Christ Jesus.  One day we
will be glorified with Christ and live with him
forever. That is good news!!

The good news is just too good to miss.

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COLUMN: Field Notes

Honorable Conduct
by Michael Brooks

"Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims,
abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the
soul, having your conduct honorable among the
Gentiles that when they speak against you as
evildoers, they may, by your good works which they
observe, glorify God in the day of visitation" (1
Peter 2:11,12).

A Bengali Christian lady told of the time when a
neighbor asked her to keep a substantial sum of
cash for him for a few days. He was to have
company and did not trust the funds in his own
home, but told her, "I know you will take care of
my money; I can trust you. You are a Christian."

Christianity is often criticized and persecuted as
a system of faith. Other religions oppose our view
of God, or of Christ, or of the Church. Non-
believers ridicule all religion and faith as
"ignorant superstition" or worse. Such abuse is
common, has always happened, and we must expect
it. We prepare logical answers to these
challenges, and sometimes are able to persuade our
opponents of the truth and reasonableness of
Christian faith. However, there are many who will
simply not listen to rational discussion, and
others who will reject our arguments, and will not
be convinced.

It is in such situations as these that Peter
suggests another approach. He instructs Christians
to live in such a way as to draw praise and honor,
even from those who would reject our faith and
doctrine. Those of other religions and
philosophies may find our Gospel offensive, but
genuine Christian character will always attract
favorable notice. We are to be the best neighbors
anyone ever had. Honesty, trustworthiness,
hospitality, kindness, love, and generosity are
only a few of the many positive traits that build
a society and that are characteristic of the
followers of Jesus (Galatians 5:22-25; 2 Peter
1:5-8). These traits should be our answer to the
hostility of our opponents.

It is true that many of these virtues are not on
the list of characteristics that those in the
world aspire to for themselves. Pride, ambition,
and power are much more sought after. But the
Christian virtues are invariably those that we
would desire for our neighbors to possess. It is
these from which we benefit in others.

And this is the true heart of the Christian faith.
It requires that we "deny ourselves" (Matthew
16:24) and seek the well-being of others
(Philippians 2:4). This is unpopular, and we do
not accept this principle easily. All of us are
selfish to an extent and must learn self-denial
with great effort. But this is the path to genuine
victory in Christ. Jesus taught, "For whoever
desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever
loses his life for my sake will find it" (Matthew
16:25). In this context, the loss of life is
occasioned by self-denial; it is not the death of
the martyr so much as it is the surrender of
personal ambition and pride in order to serve
others.

Peter maintains that such honorable conduct in the
real world of the unbeliever will inevitably bring
glory to God. When people see how Christians live,
and when they see the benefits brought to our
societies, they must praise God for such lives.
Elsewhere he shows that a Christian wife's
faithful conduct may lead to the conversion of her
husband, even if he would not be persuaded by
preaching (1 Peter 3:1).

Christian living has a practical importance that
goes far beyond simple obedience to law or rule.
First, it benefits the believer. His life is
blessed by the wisdom given in the instructions of
Jesus. Secondly, it benefits society. The
generosity, kindness, and honesty of Christians is
of value to any culture and any place. Finally,
such lives glorify God. His name is honored. Faith
in him is increased. And additional souls will be
saved.

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