Perfecting What Is Lacking

February 1, 2018

Introduction

Many Christians think of their lives as being quite complete, especially regarding spiritual truths. In some cases, this may be more or less true. Still, perhaps if we are really honest with ourselves, we would have to admit that there are many deficiencies in our spiritual understanding and living. We are sometimes deceived by our own false assumptions. Further, we sometimes measure ourselves by false standards and so the truth eludes us.

The Apostle Paul, in expressing his concern for the Thessalonians, said, “For now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord. For what thanks can we render to God again for you, for all the joy wherewith we joy for your sakes before our God; Night and day praying exceedingly that we might see your face, and might perfect that which is lacking in your faith? (I Thess. 3:8-19).

The purpose of this article is to discuss some things that may be lacking in the lives of many believers today. Of course, there are many more than what we can discus here, but let’s look at some of the more common ones.

The assurance of salvation. Some people struggle with whether or not they are really saved. This is not uncommon and one needs to be sure of his or her salvation. The answer, of course, must be found in the Word of God, the Bible. If one looks primarily to a church or any religious group, he will not necessarily find the needed answer.   The problem is, at least in part, no one but God can confirm the reality of salvation to one’s soul. If one just takes the teachings given him in a certain church and does not seek God for himself, he will never know the reality of salvation. We must keep in mind that the emphasis for salvation is always on believing. Let’s consider a few verses that would be helpful.

If one is a believer, he has the witness of the Holy Spirit within.  Paul reminds us, “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the sons of God” (Rom. 8:16). The assurance of salvation cannot come from any man. It must come from God Himself.

Jesus said,

“Verily, verily I say unto you, He that heareth My word, and believeth on Him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life” (Jn. 5:24).

“He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him” (Jn. 3:36).

“I am the door: by Me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out and find pasture” (Jn. 10:9).

“And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life” (I JN. 5:11-12).

So, the assurance of salvation is a concern for many, but it can easily be cleared up by personally coming to Jesus Christ seeking His forgiveness. Again, just appealing to the teachings of a church or any other group is not sufficient. One must have a personal identity with Jesus Christ that comes only from believing what He has said about salvation. It is personally coming to Him with our sin and receiving from Him His righteousness. “For He [God] hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him” (II Cor. 5:21).

A true knowledge of the world and worldliness. This may sound strange to some because this truth is not often taught in churches today as it really needs to be. However, one cannot comprehend much of the Christian life without a comprehension  of what is meant by the world. We are not talking about the created world that is all about us. Rather, we are talking about the world system, the makeup of the society and culture that stands in opposition to God. It is all that is in the world about us that is not of God. It is the system of man that knows not God nor the truth of His word.

The Bible teaches that the world system is headed up by Satan. Do you wonder why there is so much opposition to Christianity today?! Note the teaching of the Apostle Paul, “But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: in whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them that believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ , who is the image of God, should shine unto them” (II Cor. 4:3-4). [emphasis mine].

It really takes the ministry of the Holy Spirit to reveal to us what is of God and what is of the world. That’s why people who do not know the Lord as Savior do not comprehend the truth regarding the world system and why carnal believers often resist such truth.

The believer’s relationship to the world is summed up perfectly by the Apostle John who exhorted, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever” (I Jn. :15-17). Many believers are made uncomfortable by this truth, but it is the comfort of those who truly seek to walk with God. Understanding this truth is helpful in pursuing one’s walk with God.

James put it very bluntly when he said, “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God” (James 4:4).

The truth of a personal relationship with God. Many Christians today know much about God, but they don’t really know God as a Person. Until we know Him in a personal way, the Christian life remains mostly a fog. The problem is, so many are pleased to live in the fog!

Knowing God personally is the great privilege of the believer. If we are really saved, we have come to Him personally. Jesus said, “All that the Father giveth Me shall come to Me; and him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out” (Jn. 6:37). [Emphasis mine]. That is the beginning of knowing God personally. All the things we may have learned before coming to Him may be good but, without coming to Christ personally, are just so much knowledge.

We get to know God as we study His word, meditate on His word, and pray. It is really helpful if one has the privilege of sitting under the preaching of the word of God where it is delivered in the power of the Holy Spirit. I believe personally that much preaching today is mostly on an academic level. The word is going out, but there is little dependence upon the Holy Spirit to make it real to the hearers. Remember Paul’s word to the Thessalonians, “For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance…” (I Thess. 1:5).

Paul, in praying for the Ephesian believers, said, “That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him: the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of His calling, and what the riches of His glory of His inheritance  in the saints” (Eph. 1:17-18). [Emphasis mine].

A knowledge of Biblical prophecy. By prophecy, I mean what the Bible has to say about the future. The Bible tells us about the beginning of all things and the consummation of all things. However, there are many false assumptions about the future. Some think that when we die, that is the end of our existence. Some think man will eventually destroy himself and the world and that will be it; there will be no more of anything! Some think the study of prophecy is of little or no value and so they give little attention to it.

However, the Bible has a lot to say about prophecy and how the believer is to relate to it. The following truths are just some of the things believers should know about the future. They are not an in-depth study of the various things noted, but just a reminder that they are facts that every believer should be familiar with.

It tells us about the present condition of the world and why it is like it is. II Timothy 3:1-7 speaks of this.

It tells us of the return of Jesus Christ in the air to receive all believers, both living and deceased, unto Himself. See I Thessalonians 4:13-18.

It tells us of the judgment seat of Christ for believers. Paul’s word is, “Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he has built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire” (I Cor. 3:13-15)

It tells us of what will be on the earth after the Lord’s return in the air. It is called the tribulation because it will be a time of unprecedented trouble and hardship. The prophet Daniel, in referring to that time said, “And at that time shall Michael  stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time…” (Dan. 12:1).  Matthew 24 and especially the book of Revelation speak much of life on earth during that time. It also tells us that, while it will be a time of extreme suffering for the nation of Israel, it will be a time when many will turn from their sins and turn to the Savior they had earlier rejected. Indeed, Israel as a nation will be saved. Paul reminds us, “And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob” (Rom. 11:26).       

Near the end of the Tribulation, Christ will return to earth and establish His promised earthly kingdom. It was a special promise given to the nation of Israel, but all believers will participate in it!  Many of the prophets spoke of this time as did Jesus Himself.   This time is referred to in the Bible as the Millennium because it will last for 1,000 years.

Following the Millennium, the eternal state commences. See Revelation 21-22 for details.

Also, following the millennium, there will be what the Bible calls the White Throne Judgment. This will be the judgment for all unbelievers. It is for those who refuse to bow the knee to the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior. Revelation 20:11-15 speaks of this judgment.

I know that if one has not been taught these truths from the Bible, all of these things may seem unusual to say the least. Many churches teach that there will just be a general end to the world and all the good people will go to heaven. This, of course, is an invention of the human mind and does not correspond with the truth of God’s word.

The importance of the local church. The local church should be a very significant factor in the life of every believer. Unfortunately, many never give much thought to just what a Biblical local church is. Many follow the traditions set by other people including family members or the emphasis of a given community. Without going into great detail, let’s just note a few Biblical factors relating to the local church. [Note - if the teachings regarding the local church do not come from the Bible, they have no standing from God.]

The true local church is not a creation of man, but of God. [Of course, many men have created a church of their own imagination.] The church is first referenced in the book of Acts. The establishment of the church is in the context of the pouring out of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost. The Apostle Peter, in his great sermon on the Day of Pentecost, said, “Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were  added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued steadfastly in the apostles doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers” (Acts 2:41-42). The church must be seen in distinction to God’s working with the nation of Israel.

The local church is a body of believers in a given locality for the purpose of worshiping God, carrying out the ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper [communion], and seeking to win the lost to Jesus Christ. Notice how Paul addresses the believers in such places as Corinth, Colosse, Ephesus, and others. The believers are all part of the body of Christ, but for obvious reasons they don’t all meet in the same place at the same time. Thus, the establishment of local churches.

Individual believes should be part of a local church for many reasons such as for Christian fellowship, the use of their God given talents, a place to be faithful in giving their tithes and offerings, spiritual growth, and for accountability regarding Christian living. We all need to be corrected sometimes.

Conclusion

The above is but a smattering of the many ways we all need to be perfected, or brought into a fuller completion of the will of God for our lives. The issue is, are we willing to let the truth of the word of God bring the necessary conviction and corresponding correction? If so, we will know more and more of an intimate relationship with God as we willingly surrender to His will. If not, we will continue on the same path, assuming all is well when that may not be the case! We cannot say all is well with my soul if we willingly neglect God’s word and His will for our lives. To seek the truth of God’s word and will for our lives should be our greatest concern! If everything else seems to go well for us, but we neglect Him and His word, we will suffer the consequences. Indeed, we should give no rest to our soul until our soul rests in Him!

Alice Trahms, the eldest living member of our church, passed away into the presence of the Lord on December 20, 2017. Alice was a Godly witness for the Lord and she left her imprint on the hearts of very many people including her family, her church, and the community she lived in. She served faithfully in our church in various capacities and as a public school teacher for many years. She will be greatly missed but, like the Apostle Paul said, “We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord” (II Cor. 5:8).

The memorial service was held at the church, First Baptist of Woodville, on January 13th. The church was filled with many family members and friends.

As many of you know, BJ fell and broke her right wrist before Christmas. She had surgery on it to set the bones right, but x-rays later showed it wasn’t healing right. So, back to the operating room to have more surgery and a metal plate put in her wrist to hold the bones in proper place. Later x-rays showed the wrist is now healing as it should. In about two months, she will have surgery again to remove the metal plate. She has had to deal with considerable pain, but now is doing better. Tylenol has been the savior of the day!!

The weather here in northern Wisconsin has been rather frightful! We haven’t had so much snow until just recently [even what we did get is light, comparatively speaking], but we have had much bitter cold! Some days at our house dipped to minus 18! Well, we will really enjoy spring when it comes. I’m thankful for the Lord’s provision of a “warm” house and office at church.

I’m also thankful for the hope we have for the future. We don’t know what the future will bring for any of us, but we know who holds the future. There are health issues, family issues, financial issues and a multitude of other potential problems. The point is, we are not alone in facing the problems of life. As believers, we are the sheep of His pasture and so we can be assured of His love and care for us. Of course, we need to be faithfully studying His word and maintaining our sincere fellowship and walk with Him.

If you would like to add anyone to our mailing list, please let me know their name and address. We can send The Sonshine either by regular mail or email. There is no charge. Our goal is to be the best witness of the truth of Jesus Christ we can possibly be to as many as we possibly can. We are living in perilous times. Both believers and unbelievers need to come to the knowledge of the truth.

olsenbw@baldwin-telecom.net