Thursday, February 28, 2013

Can a Sheep of Christ Ever Perish (Part 6)

Clothed with His Righteousness
All such judgment or chastening has to do with this life and never brings in question the believer's eternal acceptance before God. The sheep of Christ is clothed in the "Robe of  righteousness" and is enabled to stand in the presence of God. "Also for Adam and his wife the Lord God made tunics of skin, and clothed them (Gen. 3:21). God made these coats and dressed them both with His own hand. So He has also in His grace provided for us a robe of righteousness. The Lord Jesus Christ Himself is that Robe of righteousness. He is "THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS," "who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness" (Jer. 23:6, 1 Cor. 1:30). God can declare the sinner "righteous" because His righteousness has been fully and perfectly met in the death of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Jesus told a parable about a lost, rebellious son in Luke 15:11-32. Upon the son's return and confession the father gave him "the best robe." That "best robe" is a picture of Christ, the Robe of righteousness which displaces the filthy rags of self righteousness (Is. 64:6).

Christ's resurrection is the proof of our justification: "Who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification" (Rom. 4:25). We see the Lord Jesus seated at God's right hand after having "by Himself purged our sins" (Heb. 1:3), so we know God is satisfied with the work of His dear Son on the cross. By one act of righteousness in obedience to the will of God, Christ offered Himself up without spot, glorified God and purged away our sins. God puts that righteousness tot he account of all who believe in Jesus (Rom 5:18-19, 4:5-6).

The believing sinner is clothed by God in all the merit and value of Christ's work on the cross. He is accepted into favor with God, the righteous Judge, because of that beautiful Robe. God made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Cor. 5:21). In love for us He judged Christ there on the cross as though He were (in His sinless nature) what we are (in our sinful nature). The believing sinner is accepted by God in righteousness and so receives justification that brings life. Much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ...even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of (or "that bring") life...So that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Rom. 5:17-18, 21).

Can A Sheep of Christ Ever Perish (Part 5)

"It is God who justifies" (Romans 8:33). Justification is an act of the judge, a sentence of declared righteousness pronounced by Him in favor of the one He justifies. Justification is not something that happens in the heart of a sinner, but a change in his standing before the Judge. Once guilty and awaiting the sentence of eternal banishment from the face of the Judge, the sinner is now justified (declared not guilty) and received into eternal favor with God. This is what God does for the repentant sinner who puts his trust int he work of Christ on the cross.

God is fact a just Judge who applies the law with justice. God is the Sovereign Judge of all. Although He is full of  mercy and love, yet He also must be just in order to be consistent with Himself. The justice of God demands death for sin: "The wages of sin is death" (Rom. 6:23). 

Justified by Blood
So how can He show mercy in saving a guilty sinner from eternal death an judgment to come? How can we reconcile His justice with His mercy? We get the answer in Romans 5:8-9, "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him." 

God does not want the death of the sinner; He would like all to be saved (Ezk. 18:23, 2 Pet. 3:9). But it would be incompatible with His character as a just Judge to save sinners simply because of His love for them. He would be violating His own law if He did so. Suppose the Judge, after pronouncing sentence on the guilty, proves His love by sending His own Son to undergo the death sentence that the guilty one deserved. Would not the Judge then be just in setting the guilty one free? That is exactly what God has done; He justified us by the blood of His Son. His well-beloved Son "has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself" (Heb. 9:26). "Who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree (1 Peter 2:24).

Justified by Grace
Now we come to another side of justification. In Romans 3:24-26 we are seen as "being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation (covering) by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus."

God's grace provided the means by which sinners justly doomed to hell can be saved and have eternal life because of what our Redeemer suffered on the cross. God's justice is fully met and satisfied by the Redeemer whom He has provided.

Justified by Faith
How then can the guilty sinner apply this justification that the death of Christ has secured for him? It is by faith, which is another facet of justification. Romans 5:1 and 10:10 tell us: "Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ", and " For with the heart one believes unto righteousness."

So then God is just in pardoning the sinner who comes to Him through faith in Christ. We could think of Him as saying, " Your guilt is fully recognized; you certainly deserve judgement, but I love you. You are free because My Son paid for your sins. He paid your debt. In justice to what He has done on the cross for you, I set you free."

In view of this, what does the law have to do with justification? Absolutely nothing. "Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law" (Rom. 3:28). Faith is the opposite of  law, "But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for “the just shall live by faith.” Yet the law is not of faith, but “the man who does them shall live by them” (Gal. 3:11-12). The sinner needs life but the law can only condemn him to death. Faith recognizes that, "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom 6:23).

What is the purpose of the law?  "Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.  Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin" (Rom. 3:19-20). Its purpose is definitely not justification:  "Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified...Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith" (Gal. 2:16, 3:24).

Completely Justified
Justification is complete and eternal. "Blessed is the man to whom the Lord shall not impute sin” (Rom. 4:8). “Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more” (Heb. 10:17). "Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies" ( Rom. 8:33). "By Him everyone who believes is justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses" (Acts 13:39).

God's justification of us is complete and perfect because Christ paid for all our sins, not just part of them, not the sins committed before we believed. When Jesus Christ gave His life, all our sins were in the future; but God who sees the future as well as the past laid them all on Christ (IS. 53:6, 1 Pet. 2:24). Therefore God will never bring any sins to the charge of those He justifies. God has justified them according to the merits of Christ and will remember their sins no more.

The justified sinner has nothing more to do with judgment: Judgment is past for him. John 5:24 says,  “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life." This is his judicial standing before God as Judge of all.

Of course a child of God will experience the discipline of his holy Father, which is proof of relationship. It is "child training" to teach His own to hate and avoid all that is inconsistent with His holiness (Heb. 12:1-11, 1 Pet. 1:14-21). The Lord said, "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten" (Rev. 3:19). "For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged.32 But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world" (1 Cor. 11:31-32).


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Can a Sheep of Christ Ever Perish (Part 4)

Safe in His Hands
God's ultimate control of our lives, His dealings with us and our eternal security are entirely in His hands, the hands of our Lord and Savior, our mighty, everlasting Friend. He wants to impart confidence and His own holy calmness to the weakest of His children. We are with Him and He is with us in the storms of life and in the times of calm. We are as safe as He is.

The One who controls the winds and the  Waves, the armies of heaven and the men on earth is Jesus. He died to make us His own; He lives to keep His own and He will come again soon to take His own. His death on the cross secures our salvation as sinners and His life in heaven secures our deliverance as saints, for "He ever lives to make intercession" for us (Heb. 7:25).

Again, the strength of our security lies in the fact that God's character and our eternal safety are vitally connected and stand or fall together. "I rest on the justice of God," said a dying Christian. The righteous character of God is inseparably bound up with the salvation of the weakest believer. The eternal loss of a soul who trusted in Christ is awful to contemplate, but awful still would be the tarnishing of God's character in the sight of the universe. To think that God could fail to keep one who had turned to Him from sin, the is impossible! Believers, young and old, weak or strong, are "kept for salvation by the power of God" (1 Pet. 1:5) and declared just by God.

Can a Sheep of Christ Ever Perish? (Part 3)

Peter versus Judas
What about Judas Iscariot, the disciple who betrayed Jesus? Here we must point out the important difference between a backslider and an apostate. Peter, in self-confidence yet real love for his Master, vowed that he would face prison and death for his beloved Lord. Yet at the accusation of a servant girl he denied his Master with oaths and cursing. Peter sinned, but his faith did not fail (Lk. 22:31, 61-62). How easily we can commit such sins! However, in the darkest hour, in moments of the fiercest temptation, the weakest faith always clings to Christ even while the lips may cruelly deny Him. A true believer may go down into terrible depths of evil and thus lose his joy and usefulness, but there is one thing he cannot do: he cannot, like Judas give up Christ. The new nature which God gave us when we were born again will not allow it.

Judas in his apostate condition sold his Master; Peter denied his Master. Judas was never born again; he never had the new nature within him. He merely followed the lord outwardly. He never had a change of heart. In speaking of Judas in John 6:70-71, Jesus told the disciples plainly, "one of you is a devil." Judas was ready and willing to sell his Master for a little earthly gain.

Sad to say, many new-but-true believers needlessly worry about being lost. They sometimes use the sin of Judas and his tragic end as an example. Many believers have followed in the steps of Peter in denying that they know Christ. But no true child of God has ever gone, nor can go, in the way of Judas, the apostate, and give up Christ. Backsliding is not renouncing Christianity, but failing in the holy separate walk which God desires of His children for their blessing.

Peter was a backslider for whom the Lord prayed and whom the Lord looked (Lk. 22:32, 61). That touching look of grieved and injured love broke the heart of the poor backslider: "Peter went out and wept bitterly" (v62). Soon he was restored to fellowship with the Lord. His true repentance showed that he was a real believer and follower of Christ.. Provision is made in the advocacy of Christ with the Father for the restoration of backsliders (1 Jn. 2:1). But of apostates it is written: "For it is impossible...if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance" (Heb. 6:4-6). A true believer is one who has not only "tasted," but in a spiritual sense has gone on to eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of Man in real appropriating faith (Jn. 6:53). One may taste and perish (Heb. 6), but to eat is to live forever (Jn. 6:51, 58).

The sheep of Christ may stray, but the Shepherd of the sheep will bring him safely to Himself. Judas was not a true sheep of Christ; he was a wolf in sheep's clothing. He willfully sinned and so brought upon himself the awful judgment which cannot overtake even the weakest believer.

In one sense Judas was sanctified (set apart), just like all who profess Christ share in that general sanctification. It embraces all who outwardly separate to Christianity, the only "religion" which provides a Savior. When there is no real change of heart this outward separation to God is given up. This the sanctification referred to in Hebrews 10:29. To sin "willfully" (v26) is to deliberately with heart and mind renounce Christ and become His adversary, which effectively tramples the Son of God underfoot (v29). This is what Judas did when he sold his Master into the hands of those who hated Jesus and tried too destroy Him.

We see an example of this general sanctification in 1 Corinthians 7:14. The unbelieving partner is in a special place of blessing (set apart) because of his or her relationship with a believer. The believing partner prays for the other one and is a testimony as well. These are blessings fort he unsaved partner even though he or she may not realize it. Each one must take the step of faith individually and receive Jesus Christ as Savior for salvation.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Can A Sheep of Christ Ever Perish (Part 2)

Indwelt by the Holy Spirit
When a person becomes a child of God he or she is indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Jesus said, "And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever, the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you" (John 14:16-17).

The Apostle Paul tells us that we are sealed with the Holy Spirit upon believer (Eph. 1:13, 4:30), and no Scripture in the New Testament indicates that the Holy Spirit ever leaves a believer. We read in Ephesians 4:30 that He can be grieved, "And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption." This is a reference to the redemption of our bodies. Our souls have already been redeemed by the blood of Christ, but our bodies will be redeemed when we are raised or changed at the Rapture: "Not only that, but we also who have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body (Romans 8:23)." 

When writing to the Corinthians, Paul based his plea to practical holiness on the fact that the Spirit of God was dwelling in them. We find here two strong motives for a holy walk: their bodies were the temple of the Holy Spirit; and they were bought with a price (1 Cor. 6:19-20).

Born again believers are "sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus" (Gal. 3:26). You cannot be naturally born twice, nor can you be spiritually born twice. The new birth is never repeated. Natural birth makes you a child of your natural parents and spiritual birth makes you a child of God. This relationship with God is an eternal relationship.

As stated before, when a Christian sins, he does not forfeit the relationship of a child with his father, but he does forfeit the joy of it. After his sin David did not pray for restoration of salvation, but for restoration of the joy of salvation (Psalm 51:12).

Can A Sheep of Christ Ever Perish? Part 1

My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. I andMy Father are one (John 10:27-30).

These words of our Lord Jesus give us full assurance that His sheep cannot perish. But one must be a sheep, a true believer in Jesus Christ. One who claims to be a Christian but has little or no though for God's claims on his life may not be a sheep at all. The Shepherd thinks too much of His sheep to loseeven one. The Father gave them to the His Son and He gave His life for them. They have eternal life. It would not be eternal life if they were saved for only a period of time and then lost again; it would be temporary life life!

It is true that the child of God might fail the Lord who bought him, but that is a discipline matter between the Father and His child. The believer-sheep is a child of God whom He loves. he deals with His children as sons and daughters, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son (Hebrews 12:6 NIV). 

Fellowship versus Safety
When a child of God sins, his fellowship is broken but not his relationship. Is a child of earthly parents afraid of losing his relationship if he is disobeient? Do parents say, "If you don't behave yourself, you are not my child anymore"? Must parents threaten their child with a broken relationship to obtain obedience? The heavenly family is not unlike an earthly family: the more a relationship is experienced and enjoyed, the greater will be the communion nad desire to please our loving Gof and Father and the Lord Jesus Christ who bought us and to whom we belong.

We should not think we must work to keep saved any more then we must work to be saved. The security of the believer does not depend upon himself, but on the perfect work of the Savior. It is not a question of our holding on to Him but His holding on to us. All believers are equally saved, although not all have equal peace and spiritual and emotional contentment. Our prayer life and our right response to His words are essential to a life of communion with Him. But our eternal safety is the Good Shepherd's responsibility. With His persistent love He seeks, preserves and finally presents to Himself every believer spotless and glorified (jude 24). We must carefully distinguish the truths about fellowship and safety.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Living at Peace with Others

Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another. Romans 14:19 

As we look at the world today we see that all around us there is turmoil. In the middle east, here in the United States there is political agitation, economically there is unrest. We really should expect this lack of peace in a world that has rejected the Prince of Peace! But what is even more alarming is the lack of peace in the Church, the body of Christ. It seems where ever we turn we hear of problems among the Lord's people. What is interesting to keep in mind is that the word problem is not in the Bible. The Bible doesn't look at these difficulties among fellow Christians as problems, it refers to these things as sins or weakness. 

I found it instructive to notice that most, if not all the general letters to the church appeal to us to be at peace. We know that Peace begins with God and that the only way we can enjoy peace with God is through the finished work of Christ, "Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God" (Romans 5:1-2). But once we have peace with God, as His children we are instructed to "imitate Him" (Eph. 5:1) and pursue peace. Living peacefully with others is a fundamental premise of Christianity. Paul commanded it to every assembly he wrote to in one form or another. He begins most of his letter with "Grace and Peace." 

In writing to those at Rome Paul instructed them how to be more than conquers in Christ and exhorted them Romans 12:18, "If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men." To those at Corinth he admonished for having a competitive spirit and taught them not to divide the church or to seek prominence. The saints in Galatia were told to teach the same thing and not to bite and devour one another because of their ethnicity. In Ephesus Paul said, "I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with long suffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." Even the young Believers at Thessalonica were told not to let their doubts divide them. 

Listen to some of the other letters in the New Testament on this subject: 
Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord" (Hebrews 12:14). 

"For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace" (James 3:16-18). 

"Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless" (2 Peter 3:14). 

But you, beloved, remember the words which were spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ: how they told you that there would be mockers in the last time who would walk according to their own ungodly lusts. These are sensual persons, who cause divisions, not having the Spirit (Jude 17-19). 

In Matthew 5:9 the Lord Jesus declared, "Blessed are the Peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God." Why is this idea of pursuing peace so important? I would suggest that it is so important to the Lord because that is within His nature! Six times in the New Testament God is referred as "the God of Peace" (Romans 15:33, 16:20, 1 Cor. 14:33, Phil. 4;9, Heb. 13:20, 1 Thess. 5:23). And each time the context is different and the application of this title would be different as well. 

In 2 Thessalonians 3:16 the Lord Jesus, who is the Prince of peace (Is. 9:6), is called the "Lord of Peace." He is our peace and is the One who has made peace and preaches peace through His church today (Eph. 2:14-17). The very presence of the Spirit of God in us produces peace according Galatians 5:22-23 "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law." But there are things that do grieve and quench the Spirit. "Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God." All the things in the list there in Galatians are obstacles to peace. When these things were present in Corinth, Paul told them they were not spiritual. Listen to what he said in 1 Corinthians 3:1-4, "And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men? For when one says, “I am of Paul,” and another, “I am of Apollos,” are you not carnal?" It is very hard for us to experience peace if we are occupied with ourselves, our problems, our point of view or even others people! What ever we are occupied with is what we will pursue. 

As Christians we are commanded to actively pursue peace. It is important for us to realize that peace is more than simply the absence of conflict. Peace has with it the thought of rest, quietness and harmony. What is interesting is that these are all conditions of the heart and Matthew 6:21 reminds us "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." What ever our treasure is, what ever it is that we are actively pursuing displays where are heart is! Paul reminds us that true peace requires work! "Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another. Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All things indeed are pure, but it is evil for the man who eats with offense" (Romans 14:19-20). In Ephesians 4:1-3 he says, "to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with long suffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." Peter adds, "Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless" (2 Pet. 3:14). We are to be diligent, which means to work to the point of exhaustion and sweat, at pursing peace! In fact it is interesting that we are to be just as diligent pursing peace and preserving the outward expression of unity of the Spirit as we are to "being diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth" (2 Tim. 2:15). 

Pursuing peace may require a change of behavior. 2 Timothy 2:22 challenges me to "Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart." If we are going to enjoy this peace we must not pursue a self centered life! Living in peace also requires discipline. Listen to what Hebrews 12:9-15 says, "Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us,and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness.Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed.Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled" 

In order for peace to be enjoyed in any group of people there must be order to prevent rivalry. Whether it is in the home, at work or in the church there must be a framework to follow. In thinking of the local assembly, Paul emphasizes this in 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13 when he writes, "And we urge you, brethren, to recognize those who labor among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. Be at peace among yourselves." 

Some practice "peace at any price" and sweep things under the rug. They think if they ignore conflict it will go away. But the command to live at peace with others has two exceptions. Both of them found in Romans 12:18 "If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men." If it is possible is the first exception. It is not always possible to live in peace. David wanted peace with King Saul but he never really had it. The second exception seen in this verse is, as much as depends on you. There are times when the other person refuses to live in peace and scripture reminds us that, "a brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city" (Proverbs 18:19). But we can't let these exceptions hinder our pursuit of peace! If both sides of the conflict refuse to yield, both have sinned. If I have the attitude "that brother is so hard to get along with" what I actually might be meaning is that "he refuses to admit that I'm right." How do we reconcile such a situation? Paul address this very thing in Philippians 2:1-4, "Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others." If the love of God has truly had an impact on my heart then I am not going to seek and insist on my own way, because love "does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil (1 Cor. 13:5). There may be times when peace requires distance such as in the case of Paul and Barnabas in Acts 15. They had had a severe disagreement and went separate ways. But later Scripture seems to indicate that there was not a lingering animosity built up toward one another. It would seem that peace was pursued rather than letting bitterness grow. 

The world is looking on the church today? What are they seeing? The world is watching you and your local assembly? What are they seeing? Do they see you pursuing peace? The Lord Jesus said, "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35). He also challenged us when He said, "Salt is good, but if the salt loses its flavor, how will you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace with one another” (Mark 9:50). 

May we heed Paul's final word to those at Corinth, "Finally, brethren, farewell. Become complete. Be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you" (2 Cor. 13:11).