Friday, March 28, 2014

Caring for new life ....................... Parables 098

Now and then an abandoned but living baby is discovered on a doorstep, in a public washroom, or sometimes in a garbage can. Given the privilege of birth, it lives - but without the concern of society and the specific assistance of individuals and organizations, it wouldn’t live for long. 

Christians have a similar concern regarding new-born spiritual babies.

Jesus, just before He ascended to heaven after His resurrection, gave a commandment that has become known as the “Great Commission.” Most Christians know it by memory: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” (Matthew 28:19,20) 

It is a “great” commission. This was the way that Christ intended that spiritual reproduction and growth should occur. The process begins with birth: the Word of God is implanted in a receptive heart; and it mysteriously works by the power of the Spirit of God to bring a person to faith and a living union with Jesus Christ... “If any one is in Christ Jesus, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17) 

This spiritual birth is absolutely essential. Jesus told Nicodemus, a Jewish religious leader, “I tell you the truth, unless a man is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God... or enter into it” (John 3:3,5). 

Washed clean from sin and guilt, the believing person is given a place in God’s family as he or she receives Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. “ all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God - children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will but born of God” (John 1:12,13). 

The excitement in God’s family over a new birth is at least equal to the joy in a loving family after a physical birth; yet in a spiritual birth the new “babe” also enters into the celebration. In fact, he may be the most excited of all... he has come out of darkness into the light of God’s love and truth. He knows that he has been transformed by Christ and now belongs to Him. 

Shortly after spiritual birth, the new Christian experiences hunger for large doses of his “milk”, the Word of God. Most of the time he gets nurtured and brought to maturity through the Scriptures and the shared knowledge and experience of mature believers who have been faithful to the command in the great commission. (II Timothy 2:2) 

But sometimes the baby is abandoned. No one picks him up off the delivery room floor, cleans his eyes out, lovingly wraps him, or gives him regular feedings until he is able to feed himself. Sometimes this babe is picked up by a cult and nurtured by false teaching - resulting in doctrinal distortion, loss of victory over sin - and loss of joy. 

I’ve wondered how the Lord Jesus responds when He sees the abandoned babes? How does He feel when these babes struggle in immaturity? I know how the babes feel. 

The Bible is clear that both birth and nurturing are part of the great commission. New babes in the Lord are not to be abandoned but taught by those who have already reached a measure of maturity.

And it is never too late to begin.

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