[forthright] Key Words

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From: Forthright Magazine <ba@...>
Date: Mon, 26 Jul 2004 11:57:51 -0500
Forthright Magazine
http://www.forthright.net
Straight to the Cross

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Today's Prayer: To do what we know
http://forthright.antville.org/stories/866455/
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COLUMN: Final Phase

Key Words
by J. Randal Matheny

Invisible molecules move the Internet. Robot
crawlers burrow from website to website
registering content for the search engines. In the
header section of a webpage, a webmaster can list
unseen key words to identify a site and provide a
description for people who use services like
Google to find what they want. Those key words
become an important tool in the growing jungle we
know as the Internet.

Christians also use a wide group of key words to
mark their faith. Unlike the Internet, these words
appear often on their lips and mark their lives as
different from the world in general. These words
are more than mere tags, but denote a profound
reality in which they live and move and have their
being.

I have listed below a few of those key Christian
words that came immediately to my mind.

* GOD. All begins and ends with the creative
power, benevolent order, and purposeful action of
the almighty God. True religion concerns itself
with actions performed "in the sight of our God
and Father" (James 1:27, NASB). Man bears his
image, and by his blessing male and female become
Man (Genesis 6:1,2). Even in flight or rebellion,
man is defined in relation to God, for whose
fellowship he was made.

* JESUS CHRIST. Of several New Testament summaries
of the gospel, perhaps the shortest boils it down
to a single phrase: "For I determined to know
nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and him
crucified" (1 Corinthians 2:2). In an otherwise
excellent book, one writer criticized the concept
that everything about Christianity must revolve
around Jesus. Men abuse that concept to exclude
great doctrines, but we can only rejoice in the
truth that every act, thought, motive, and word of
the Christian faith centers in Jesus. (See
Ephesians 1:3, 19-23.)

* HOLY SPIRIT. Always pointing to Christ, the
Spirit of God empowers the word to do its work of
conversion and transformation. Christians are
marked people, having been given the seal of the
promised Holy Spirit. His presence with us today
is the guarantee of the eternal inheritance we
will shortly receive (Ephesians 1:13,14). He
creates and sustains our fellowship with God and
one another (2 Corinthians 13:14; Ephesians 4:3).

* LOVE. God is love (1 John 3:16). We should never
assume that people understand the nature and
character of God. The long history of the Old
Testament testifies to his faithful mercy in
fulfilling the eternal plan. Its culmination leads
us to point to that one place where love made its
ultimate sacrifice.

* CROSS. Satan made Golgotha ground zero for his
major attack. God made it the beachhead for the
final victory. So the Cross is our only boast
(Galatians 6:14) and the only hoop through which
one must jump to get to God (Galatians 5:11; 1
Corinthians 1:23). For if Jesus was crucified, his
followers face the same fate (Luke 9:23).

* OBEDIENCE. We preach the Cross that all "may
obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with his blood"
(1 Peter 1:2). Some depend upon works to prove
their goodness; others spout an empty, demonic
faith void of action. To obey means to surrender
one's own efforts (or lack of them) in order to
follow Jesus and do the will of God.

This highly selective list doesn't do justice to
the rich vocabulary of faith, nor to the fullness
of God's grace at work in his people. It brushes
the hem of the garment to remind us of the
blessing we carry to enjoy and share.

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