If you can endure the initial illustration and plow on to the end, the reward will be greater than just eye exercises. This simple presentation illustrates the biblical* framework for the gift of God's wonderful salvation to us.
Characteristics Verses Source: Husband & Wife
My wife has many characteristics. She is about five feet six inches tall, has brown hair and brown eyes. She shows love to me in many ways. She has a good sense of humor and is beautiful. She is faithful to me.
These are all true statements about my wife. Some of them are even characteristics that I expect her to have because she is my wife, such as being faithful to me. But is the truthfulness of any of these statements the source for her becoming my wife?
When we were engaged, since she did not date others, she was faithful to me. Did her being faithful to me make her my wife? No. Did the fact that she loved me make her my wife? No.
Imagine the confusion which would reign if a guy thought that "being faithful" and "love" resulted in a woman becoming his wife. It is important to know the real basis for such a relationship otherwise identity is thrown into crisis.
Characteristics Verses Source: God & Christians
Christians are to have many characteristics. We are to love. We can call ourselves Christians, disciples of Christ, God's people, etc. We are to believe that Jesus is God's Son. How we forgive others is to be modeled upon how God forgives people. We are to be a people acknowledging Jesus is Lord. We are to live godly moral lives. These are just some of the many characteristics which Christians are to have.
But no mere Christian characteristic is the source for anyone becoming a child of God. What is the basis for a person belonging to God?
Since salvation is not based upon works1 (e.g. our goodness or characteristics!), being a loving person does not make anyone a child of God. Yet, to be sons of the Father we must love others!2
It is very sad and I do not enjoy writing that Jesus taught there will be those who have called him Lord and in his name will have even performed many wonderful things, but he will claim he never knew them.3 Yet, those who do belong to Jesus must call upon him their Lord.4 They are also expected to do good works.5
What is the answer to our question? Just as a man and wife are joined together through marriage, so too God joins us to His family when we enter into covenant with Him.
Promises of the New Covenant = Forgiveness & Belonging to God Hebrews 8:10-12; 10:10-19
Since the essential aspect for belonging to God is based upon whether we have entered the new covenant, this explains why the promises of this new covenant are associated in the New Testament with those elements responsible for creating this covenant or incorporating us into it. For example, both the forgiveness of sins and being taken to be God's people (which are the promises of the new covenant) are describd as being made possible by the blood of Jesus (which was responsible for creating this new covenant). Consider how the following teachings regarding being forgiven and being incorporated into God's people are tied to aspects of the new covenant. Jesus' blood which creates the new covenant is responsible for our forgiveness and our belonging to God. Matthew 26:28; Revelation 5:9; Romans 3:24-25; Hebrews 10:29; Titus 2:14
Hearts sprinkled with Jesus' blood (which is the divine priestly action placing us under the covenant when we rely upon Jesus) results in a clear conscience and describes those who belong to God. Hebrews 10:19, 22; 12:22-24; 1 Peter 1:2
Immersion in water as a response to the gospel, (an act whereby we rely upon Christ and are brought into the new covenant), is tied to receiving the forgiveness of sins/ a clear conscience and becoming a child of God. Acts 2:38; 22:16; Galatians 3:26-27; John 3:5; Titus 3:5; Hebrews 10:22; 1 Peter 3:21
Furthermore, since our reception of Jesus results in our entering into the new covenant, this is the framework behind the general affirmations that to believe in Jesus is required for salvation and saves us. John 1:12; Acts 16:31; Titus 2:14
We should expect to find within the New Testament that those concepts which are related to the creation of the new covenant or our incorporation into it will be described as bringing us forgiveness and causing us to become a people for God's own possession. Why? Because these are the promises of the new covenant.
*To think biblically involves starting with the Bible's framework/ message and then applying its message to our world, rather than starting with the traditions which already exist and reading the Bible in light of these practices and teachings.
1 Ephesians 2:9; Titus 3:5
2 Matthew 5:44-45; 1 John 4:7-8
3 Matthew 7:21-23
4 Hebrews 11:6; Romans 10:10, 13
5 Ephesians 2:10; 1 Timothy 6:18-19
Other Articles Which May Be of Interest:
When God Says, "You Belong to Me"
Sectarianism, Denominationalism & the Lord's Church
Do You Know Who Your Spouse Is? (Identity Issues - "Who is a Christian?")
A Child of God by Faith in Jesus
Copyright © 2002 Barry Newton