Tag Archives: children of God

Children of the Light, Part 2

“But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that l write unto you. But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for a helmet,                                     the hope of salvation.” l Thessalonians 5:1, 8 (NKJ)

Believers are privileged to enjoy a special relationship with God as a result of Christ’s work of redemption. Being justified (made righteous) by faith, we now have peace with God (Rom. 5:1) and are adopted as sons (Gal. 4:5-7)—sons of light and sons of the day.  ln last week’s teaching, we exhorted believers to live each day as if Christ would return at any moment. Believers know that the Day of the Lord is coming. So how are we to live as we wait for Christ’s return?

As children of the light, we are to live soberly. To be sober means “self-controlled and clear-headed.” The literal Greek rendering of sober is “l am well-balanced” and free from the influences of intoxicants.

Intoxicants are anything that impairs a person’s thinking or judgment.  Intoxicants are not limited to alcoholic beverages but can include people, relationships, or habits. To be sober is used metaphorically of “alertness” and “watchfulness.” Believer would be well advised to live self-controlled, well-balance lives while avoiding those things that impair their thinking (1 Pet. 4:7; 5:8).

To help the church at Thessalonica “live soberly” while waiting for Christ’s return, Paul recommends two critical pieces of armor–a breastplate and a helmet. While defensive in nature, they are designed to protect two key areas of the believer–their heart and their mind. Paul uses language reminiscent of Ephesians 6 where he describes the proper attire for waging war against “principalities and powers, rulers of darkness, and spiritual host of wickedness.”

A soldier’s breastplate covered him from his neck to his waist and protected most of his vital organs. That is what the breastplate of faith and love does for the believer. Faith, our belief in the Risen Christ, guards our heart from error. Love protects our relationship with God and with others.  lf one loves God, he will also love other people (1 John 4:20-21). Faith and love cannot be separated.

The helmet, representing the hope of salvation, guards the believer’s head from attacks on their thinking. The believer’s hope lies in knowing that they are delivered from any future wrath from God (Rom.5:8-9). “For God hath not appointed us (believers) to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ.”(1 Thess.5:9). God’s wrath is reserved only for the children of disobedience (Eph. 5:6).

As believers wait for Christ’ return, we are to “be sober and adequately armed.” Waiting is not characterized by idle pursuits or wasteful self-indulgence.  Instead our life should reflect an attitude of joyful anticipation as we prepare for the Second Advent of Christ.  Our work of ministry should include passionate evangelizing, expansive outreach, and an outpouring of love to the disenfranchised and brokenhearted. We are to remember both our heritage and our future. We are to live as children of the Light.

Children of the Light, Part 1

“You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober.” 1 Thessalonians 5:5-6 (NKJ)

1st and 2nd Thessalonians are the first letters written to the early churches. These letters, written by the Apostle Paul, were different from his other letters and crafted for a more spiritually mature audience.

The church’s inquiries included questions concerning Christ’s Second Coming and what benefit were gained if Christians died before Christ returned to establish His kingdom. Since Paul couldn’t predict when Christ would return, he instead assured these early Christians that what matter more was how they live each day.  Paul’s words are still relevant today.  We must live each day as if Christ would return at any moment.

Paul begins chapter five by explaining the stark reality concerning the time of Christ’s second return. No one knows when it will occur! Not even the Son of God (Acts 1: 6-7).  Paul describes Christ’s return as a “thief in the night” (v 2); as “sudden destruction” and as “travail upon a woman with child” (v. 3). While many have tried to estimate the time, it remains the business of the Father alone to determine when His Son will return. This is His prerogative as Creator of heaven and earth. Our times are in His hand (Ps. 75:2-5).

Paul uses the literary device of contrast and comparison to emphasis the distinct difference between how believers are to wait for Christ’s return versus nonbelievers. The brilliance and clarity of light and day is contrasted with the ambiguous character of night and darkness. Paul builds on this theme by depicting individuals “of the night” as those “who sleeps and are drunk”; “sons of light and day” are described as those who “watch and are sober” (v. 6), These differences would be easily understood by the readers of
Paul’s letter.

Living in the 21st century, we are consumed by concern of “future things.” Political outcomes, financial predictions, and social posturing occupy too much of our waking hours. Like the church at Thessalonica, we are carefully assessing our options and prioritize our resources (financial and time) based on what “we hope” will give us the greatest return, But is our focus on the “right” future things? Are we showing adequate concern for our spiritual future? Will our current efforts net us the greatest spiritual return for our eternal souls?  ln whose hand are you placing your “future hope”?

Modern technology offers to us “timely” information so that nothing will “catch us by surprise”.  But Christ return will be different. There will be no blog or Facebook post to announce His return. There will be no tweet or unauthorized photo to publicize His arrival.  We will simply have to watch, read “the signs” and wait (Matt 24:L-44; Mark 13:1-37; Luke 21:5-36).

Next week, we’ll explore how we are to live while we wait for Christ’s return-unless He comes first .  In the meanwhile, when your thoughts become cloudy and anxious because of concern over “future things”, choose to walk in the light. Jesus is the Light.

“We’ll walk in the light, beautiful light! Come where the dew drops of mercy shine bright.  Shine all around us by day and by night. Jesus, the Light of the world!” 

Can You Handle the Truth?

“…and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”
John 8:31-32 (NRSV)

The 1992 acclaimed film, A Few Good Men, revolves around the court-martial of two U.S. Marines charged with the murder of a fellow Marine and the tribulations of their lawyers as they prepare a case to defend their clients.  Col. Nathan R. Jessep (Jack Nicholson), the highest ranking officer on the base is rigorous interrogated by a young defense lawyer, Kaffee (Tom Cruise) to uncover the truth behind this heinous crime.  Kaffee admonishes Jessep to tell the truth.  Agitated by want he sees as a direct affront to his authority, Jessep retorts, “You want the truth?  You want the truth? You can’t handle the truth!”

Can we handle the truth?  Especially when that truth is measured against the authority of Scripture and the lordship of Jesus Christ?  This month’s series, “In Search of Truth”, will focus on the believer’s challenge to walk in biblical truth while living in a postmodern world.

With all the political rhetoric and social bantering, it is clear that this world is in need of truth.  But can we handle it?  Behind the news bytes and sound bits, there is an intention movement currently underway to redefine what truth is and what it isn’t.  This is nothing new.  This inclination to “repackage” the truth comes directly from the father of lies, Satan himself (John 8:44).   Be careful how you define truth or you too may fall prey to the subtly of deception.  “Did God really say you must not eat any of the fruit in the garden?” (Gen. 3:1, NLT)

In decades past, people could depend on the media to communicate the “truth” with regard to specific issues of the day.  Newspapers, magazine publications and newscasters were committed to operate at the highest ethical standards.  In addition, people could depend on their local leaders—civic or religious—to offer truth, as they knew best.  But over time that has changed.  Unfortunately both media and individuals can only offer their own opinions based on personal agendas or corporate bias, leaving individuals still “in search for truth”.  Truth is now shaped by social media and image consultants—by the number of “likes”, “retweets” and “followers” one can amass.

What is truth?  Truth is defined as that which agrees with reality.  The believer’s reality and meaning is grounded in God.  That reality began in the Garden of Eden.  Created in God’s image, our purpose and destiny is tied to our identity in Him through Christ (Col. 3:3).  This reality was sidetracked by sin and replaced with Satan’s counterfeit that placed self on the throne where only Christ was to be seated and exalted.  Because of Jesus’ atoning work on the Cross, our sins were forgiven and we are now reconciled back to God (2 Cor. 5:18, 19).  When we affirm our faith, we acknowledge that we have died to our old sin nature (Gal. 5:24) and walk in newness of life (Rom. 6:4).  We no longer follow the worldview—its influence was negated by the Blood.  Our meaning and reality is now realigned with God (2 Cor. 5:15).   “For in Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28a).

More than ever before, believers must connect with the only True Source of Truth, Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior (John 14:6).  God’s Word and the Spirit of Truth stand ready to silence the lies, myths and fables we might hear  (2 Tim. 4:3-4).  God is the only source of truth for our lives.  Can you handle the truth?

The Practice of Peacemaking

 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”  Matt. 5:9 (NRS)

What adjective do people use to describe you?  Do they portray you as a bridge builder or a wrecking ball?   Do they see you as one who encourages others or as a dream crusher?  As silly as this exercise may seem, it is important that believers daily exhibit behavior that reflects God’s nature, especially behavior that demonstrates kingdom living.  Today’s beatitude examines God’s peace as it is revealed by those called by His name.

In the beginning man enjoyed a special relationship with God in the Garden of Eden.  But with the introduction of sin, man became estranged from God.  The fellowship and peace once enjoyed by the Creator and His beloved creature was broken.  But because of His great love God reconciled Himself to man through Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 5:18-19) thereby once again making peace possible between Himself and man.  Through the act of reconciliation, God has also created the opportunity for man to share with his fellow man God’s ministry of peace (2 Cor. 5:20).  Peacemaking found its genesis in the heart of God.

Peacemakers (eirenopoios which means “make peace”) are intentional in creating opportunities that mirror God’s heart of peace in the world. Those who are peacemakers are first and foremost people who understand and embrace God’s provision of peace.  They understand that peace is not the result of external factors or human effort but is the internal “heart work” of the Holy Spirit, who is daily conforming believers to the image of Christ, the Ultimate Peacemaker (Rom. 8:29).   Peacemakers strive to promote the kingdom of God.  They look for opportunities to both prevent potential conflicts and encourage peaceful relationships even if it means personal sacrifice and self-deference (1 Cor. 9:22).  As Christ demonstrated God’s peace in His ministry, believers become peacemakers in this present age (Phil. 4:7).

Who are children of God?

(1) Those who by faith in Jesus Christ have accepted God’s offer of salvation (Gal. 3:26).  The peace that Jesus speaks to in this beatitude is not a “natural” habit or disposition of man; nor is it something one can strive to achieve.  This peace is part of the new nature imparted to man during the process of salvation (2 Cor. 5:17).  This new nature changes the perspective of how man views himself, others, and the world.  He no longer lives for himself but for the glory of God (2 Cor. 5:15).  To practice peacemaking is not easy (in the natural)—that’s why a new nature is required.

(2) Those who are led by the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:14).  In contract, those who are not led by the Holy Spirit are directed by the mind and the flesh which are at enmity with the things of God (Rom. 8:6-8). Those who choose not to accept the offer of salvation, live as children of disobedience, guided by their fleshly nature, instructed by the ways of the world, and servant to the god of the air (1 John 3:10). How can there be peace on earth when mankind is consumed by greed, lust, pride, and hatred.  These are the root of peacelessness.

(3) Those who love God and obey His commandments (1 John 5:2).  I was once told by a fellow believer that in life they simply follow the “10/2” rule—the Ten Commandments (Deut. 5:6-21) and the Greatest Law (Mark 12:28-34). Evidence of being a child of God is seen in how one lives.  Giving little attention to self, the child of God focuses on the things that glorify God and serve others.

What an honor it is to be identified as part of such a holy and righteous linage.  No longer sons of disobedience (Eph. 2:2), we now are heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ (Rom. 8:17).   We thank God for life and the name change—from children of darkness to children of God.