This weekend we consider aspects associated with Christ building His Church. In particular, we think about what being a part of the body of Christ means to us as individuals. We are clearly moving deeper into events that shape the end of the age – that period of time that Christ said would be the sign of His coming. This is a good time to reflect on the road that God’s calling has taken you on. We can use it as a means to evaluate the road that is still before each one of us.
The Day of Pentecost reminds us of our potential as firstfruits. But we are still living mortal lives, waiting for that potential to be unlocked. We have the “earnest of our inheritance” while waiting for the “redemption of the purchased possession.” It is what we do while we wait that is of great importance in this end-time period.
On a personal note, I think back over nearly 55 years of Church experience and note that I had no idea what twists and turns lay ahead when I was baptized. And it is probably just as well because if I had, it would have made committing to this way of life a lot harder. The point is, we made a commitment that was based on spiritual factors, not physical. God has been and will continue to be, absolutely faithful to His part of the covenant agreement that we “signed” on to at baptism. But many of the physical elements of our paths have come as surprises.
In reality, some of the physical aspects of our lives are thrown at us by the god of this world, as he still maintains a degree of leverage in that role. Pentecost reminds us that his days are numbered and that the family of God, comprised of spirit-born sons, will rule with and under Jesus Christ after His return — the Firstfruit with the firstfruits. However, Satan’s awareness that his days are numbered has consequences for our lives.
Reflection upon our Church journey will beg the question – are we in for the long haul? Do we still remain as committed to our covenant (spiritual) obligations as we did when we were baptized?
Everything about this age in which we now find ourselves is designed to prevent the development of spirit-begotten sons for God’s family. It is either perverting minds so that God’s truth is abhorrent or attempting to stunt the growth and development of those called at this time. Satan would love to blight the crop being prepared for the first harvest.
Although there are many ways to describe our “age,” it is true to say that we live in a liberal environment. While the term “liberal” can have numerous applications, it can be used to describe behavior or attitude. A couple of definitions that we need to consider are:
*A political or social philosophy advocating the freedom of the individual.
*A movement in modern Protestantism that emphasizes freedom from tradition and authority.
Both of these definitions accurately describe our Church environment as we live in this world.
After Mr. Armstrong died, the Church entered into a full-blown period of liberalism. We had been battling the pressure of freedom of the individual from the secular world, but it has now developed into the serious freedom from “tradition and authority” within the spiritual body.
For members of the spiritual body, liberalism is lawlessness.
Christ plainly said that in the last days, lawlessness would abound, causing the love of many to grow cold. As He spoke this to the disciples of this time, He added, “But those that endure to the end shall be saved” (see Matthew 24:12-13).
This describes our “today.” The author of the book of Hebrews wrote about the same aspect of our spiritual lives when he wrote, “Today … do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion” (Hebrews 3:7-8). This is a reference to the example of Israel, which Paul said is written for our admonition and learning.
Liberalism hardens hearts! It causes the love of God within us to grow cold. It is a disease that effectively stunts the growth and development of the firstfruit crop. It is an attitude and behavior that God’s people must avoid in order to endure and stay in for the long haul.
Our freedom is true freedom. Listen carefully to Paul’s admonition. “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage” (Galatians 5:1). “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:2).
Pentecost is a great day for us to pause and reflect upon what it really means to be a part of the “ecclesia” – the Church – at this important time in human history. Are we as committed to God’s covenant obligations as we were when we were baptized?