Nimal Wijesinghe (Airdrie)
As His disciples we must all surely want to know what the Lord wants from us? The surest way to know what our Lord wants from us is to diligently and prayerfully study the Holy Bible. In the Holy Bible we find all that the Lord has to tell us about Him, His Kingdom and how to live our days on Earth and how to prepare for our eternal home in heaven.
“In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no-one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.”
We know that to be disciples we must be born again. As ‘born again’ Christians the starting point of the Christian life and witness on Earth must surely be the Great Commission our Lord left with His disciples just before He ascended into Heaven.
“Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Verse 19 is clear. We are to ‘make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit’. We are not called to make ‘‘Christians’ and/or ‘Church members’ nor indeed, are we called to make ‘Baptists’!
Jesus also said …
“If you love me, you will obey what I command.”
The organisation of a body of people into different groups, of well meaning, devout, Worshippers of the Lord Jesus Christ, is a sad and unfortunate fact. However it is probably understandable considering the free will God has given mankind. While exercising this free will, mankind can be in disagreement on many matters and in the case of Christians even on matters of paramount importance in respect of their Faith. Of course many in the world today have used this same free-will to get away from God and even suggest He does not exist. And so, the inevitability of division, in the case of the Body of Christ into groups, has given rise to thousands of Christian denominations.
The denominational Church is not Biblical. It is man-made and it is difficult not to wonder how pleased Almighty God might be with fragmentation of the multitudes of people, all of whom call themselves Christian. It has been reported that there are some 27,000 Baptist groupings in the world today!
Surely, these divisions cannot be pleasing to the Lord?
It may be pertinent to mention that in the Bible there is no mention of a Baptist Quarter or Baptist Camp or similar in Heaven!
The world around us is sick. Materialism is fast becoming a new and powerful world religion. With it the time honoured vales of tolerance, fairness, justice and indeed morality deteriorate. The Church is all but silent and apparently impotent to halt the slide and is seen to be content to meet behind closed doors, mainly on Sundays, and tell each other what a great God they have and go out into the world with no urgency or a message of hope for the lost, the lonely and the sick and behave as though there is no God or that God is asleep or on holiday and ought not to be disturbed!
More than 2000 years after Jesus came into this world, the ‘Christians’ are found divided into denominations, at times denouncing each other, and at best happily (in effect) singing, ‘you in your small corner and I in mine’!
Were we to go back in time to those early days and listen in to a discussion between an early Christian (C) and his/her non-Christian (NC) neighbour who was keen to know more about Christianity, the dialogue might run on these lines:
NC: So where is your synagogue?
C: We do not have a synagogue!
NC: No, synagogue? Where then do you gather to worship?
C: In homes, in the open air, in any place suitable for a gathering.
NC: Where do you offer your sacrifices to your God?
C: We no longer have to offer sacrifices. Jesus became a sacrifice for us and offered His life as full payment for the punishment our sins deserve. Thereby we are forgiven and spiritually cleansed through the sacrificial blood of Christ. This cleansing is freely available to all who believe and accept Jesus as Saviour and Lord!
NC: What about the rituals and priests…? Are they no longer essential?
C: No. Just to be a disciple of Jesus and obey His commands in every way is all that is required.
And so on…
Would it be pertinent to ask how much emphasis a Christian should place on being a ‘Baptist’ if being a Baptists means gathering together from time to time to pat each other on the back and tell each other what good ‘Baptists/Christians’ they all are?
Of course this applies to all Christians in all denominations.
Do we, the ‘Baptists’, feel obliged to follow the lead given by Hans Denck (c. 1495-1527AD) or do we, with all that is commendable in the ‘Baptist’ form of worship and witness, just yearn to follow Jesus Christ (c. 35AD), and do as He commands? The two ought not to be mutually exclusive but often there are those who feel they are ‘Baptist’ before they are ‘Christian’! A partisan loyalty to the Baptist Church, per se, will stem from a ‘holier-than-thou’ attitude when it comes to how one relates to non-Baptist Christians.
Jesus has not changed. His Message has not changed. His Word has not changed. His promises have not changed. His love has not changed. His Salvation remains freely available to all people.
Hebrews 13:8Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and for ever.
“Therefore go and make disciples teaching them to obey everything I have commanded “If you love me, you will obey what I command.”
The will of God for His Creation and for mankind is all that matters! For all who offer themselves unreservedly to Jesus to go where He sends and say what He wants said and do what He wants done is the beginning and end of the Christian life and witness on Earth. God will not lead us to any place or situation where His grace will not sustain, support and equip us for Service!
Ecclesiastes 12:13Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole [duty] of man.
Jesus calls us to be His disciples and to obey all He has commanded us to do. Shall we?