Far too many people approach their religion as a checkbox religion — something they have to do in order to please their god. However, as a Christian, the life of a Christian is not bound up in a “must do” or “must perform” ideology, but rather a Spirit-empowered life of joy that finds ultimate fulfillment in God through Jesus Christ. Have you stopped to consider what you get as a result of being a Christian? What has God given to each of his children that we often overlook on a daily basis?
The Perspicuity of Scripture
The natural mind cannot fully understand the Scriptures because of the stain of sin. It is the effect of sin that prevents the depraved sinner from reading, understanding, and comprehending the meaning of sacred Scripture. This point Paul made clear in 1 Corinthians 2:14 as he writes, “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.” What does it mean that the Scriptures are spiritually discerned?
Spiritual discernment is a way of Paul referencing the work of the holy Spirit in illuminating the truths of God’s Word to his people. Remember, Jesus taught in parables not merely to place the cookies on the bottom shelf for everyone to understand freely — instead he utilized the parables to reveal truths to his disciples while concealing the same truths to the God-haters. In the same way, today God’s people can read and understand the truths of the Bible while those who reject God are incapable of seeing it because the work of the Spirit is not at work in their hearts.
The perspicuity of Scripture is an old phrase that isn’t very clear at all. Interestingly enough, it means the clarity of Scripture. As a Christian, it’s a thrill to open the Bible and know that I can read it, understand it, comprehend it, and obey it. All of this is the overflow of the Holy Spirit’s work in each of God’s children.
The Local Church
Contrary to popular trends, the local church is not for unbelievers. That may sound a bit harsh, but allow me to explain. First, let me explain what I don’t mean by that statement. I am not insinuating that unbelievers should never be invited to our church assemblies. What I am suggesting is that membership in the local church is for followers of Jesus only — and to deviate from that plan is to redefine the very word “church” as we see it in the New Testament.
Through the years, I have witnessed many professing Christians who approached church attendance more like an old family tradition rather than a joy and privilege. For some, attending church is a “checkbox” for their religious duty. Once they get that checked off by noon, they’re free to go on and enjoy their day. However, true Christians find joy and fulfillment in attending church for worship and fellowship. It’s through the local church that we serve God, worship God, fellowship with friends, and serve one another. Because I’m a Christian I have the distinct privilege of attending church — assembling together with the church on Sunday mornings, evenings, and Wednesday evenings (our regular scheduled gatherings).
The church is often referred to as the family of faith — and as a family of Jesus followers we gather together in the unity of the Spirit and the bond of peace (Eph. 4:3). What a joy and privilege to be a member of a local church (1 Cor. 12:27).
Temporal and Eternal Joy
Before regeneration changed my life, I had no true joy in God. The temporal joys of waking up in the early hours of the morning and just thinking about how good God is and how his love for me is all satisfying was non-existent. Those moments of gazing at the sky and considering how majestic God is in creation and how sovereign he is in ruling over the universe was not something that occupied my thoughts often. When I did think on those things, they usually were in conflict with my sin and resulted in fear and shame rather than joy and happiness.
As a Christian, I have the overwhelming privilege of looking at the birds of the sky, the flowers on the roadside, and the expanse of God’s creation with joyful eyes. As a Christian I have the opportunity to look beyond the temporal joys of enjoying God now to when I will have the privileges of enjoying God for all of eternity. When those temporal opportunities pass away, I will be welcomed into the presence of my God — and the beginning of a never ending happiness in the presence of God will suddenly come to pass. What has been visible only through a veil will become vividly clear in high definition focus. As a Christian — I get to enjoy God now and for all of eternity.
1 Corinthians 15:50–58 — I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:
“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
“O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.