2007-07-25 - Summer Questions
2007 #5 ~ More Focus on God
Zephaniah 2:1, "Gather together; gather together."
Today's Question: "I just read the 07/19/07 summer question and I had a question if you don't mind. Can you please explain your last three ways of focusing on God. You said sacrament and baptism and fellowship with the saints. More the last then the first two but all three if you don't mind."
I am bumping this question ahead of a few others, because it relates to last week's question. In just touching on the two Sacraments of Baptism and the Lord's Supper, let us make it clear that salvation is not through anything that a church, denomination, or individual calls a sacrament. Salvation is through Christ, by faith, alone. It cannot be bestowed by any other means. This is just the point of the two Sacramental ordinances (Baptism and the Lord's Supper) in helping us to focus on the Lord. These two ordinances are for those only who already trust in Jesus Christ's meritorious offering for sin in our place. It is the reflective nature of these two Sacraments that makes them an excellent means of centering our focus on the Lord. It is an abuse of these Sacraments, to partake of them in a manner that is only ritualistic or done perfunctorily. These are to be aspects of our spiritual walk that encourage us and provide a deepening of our faith.
Fellowship is the other means of focusing on God, that I mentioned at the end of the previous devotional (Summer Question #5). The two means that the earlier devotional emphasized were prayer and the Word of God. At the end of that devotional, I mentioned the Sacraments and fellowship as additional means that could be great aids in helping us be more stayed upon the Lord.
We all know that being around others who are like-minded and have similar interests usually brings joy. It is no different for those who are followers of Christ. Having Christ in common should equate to having everything in common with another person. It often doesn't, as we bang our heads against each other about theological distinctions, differences in worship style, or any number of matters. It should not be this way. When we are with those who are, like us, sinners saved by grace, we have more in common than not in common. Our times with each other should be times of refreshing. They may not always help us focus on the Lord, but they should. It is only our sin, lack of discipline, and spiritual blindness that hinder us from using these times to our advantage in our walk with the Lord.
We abuse the term and concept of fellowship when we call something fellowship that has little or nothing to do with Christ. If Christ is not present in our gathering, it is not the fellowship of the saints. It may be an assembling together, but the concept of fellowship has a deeper connotation. Getting together with friends from church to go miniature golfing is not fellowship, if Christ is not the center of the activity, discussion, and overall progress of the evening. There is something about "God with us" (Matthew 1:23) that is essential to call something fellowship. Fellowship has something deeper than simply getting together for lunch, although getting together for lunch can be fellowship. The issue is whether Jesus Christ, or our own daily lives, is the focus of our gathering.
The firm bond of fellowship that encourages us in our walk with Christ is Christ-centered. It has a depth and significance that is beyond the day-to-day, and it is regretfully uncommon. May the Lord lead us to cultivate those times of togetherness that have Jesus Christ fully in full view.
Soli Deo Gloria,