Welcome to SmithvilleChurch.org


      Nurturing people in the image of God since 1868.                                                                          POB 397/520 Dry Creek Rd./Smithville, TN




A Perplexed Apostle

One Sunday on their way home from church, a little girl said to her mother, "Mommy, the preacher's sermon this morning confused me." The mother said, "How so, honey?" "Well, he said God is bigger than we are. Is that true?" The mother said, "Yes, that's true." The little thinker continued, "And he also said God lives in us. Is that true?" Again mom replied, "Yes." Said the little girl, "Well, if God is bigger than us, and if He lives in us, wouldn't He show through?" Who can argue with her logic? It is a given in the New Testament that those who obey the Gospel of Christ and truly become His disciples will be changed! Baptism into Christ puts us in Him (Galatians 3:27; Romans 6:3-4). But the New Testament is clear He wants to get in us. The metaphors used in the New Testament to express the spiritual/moral changes and development that should take place after becoming a Christian are dramatic and vivid ones. One is found in Romans 6:1-6 which describes the process as dying to sin, a burial into Christ and His death (through baptism) — the stated purpose being "that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life." Baptism is not just an end to an old way of life, but a dramatic beginning of a brand new way of living that is to continue as long as we live!

Sadly, some people get into Christ without Him getting very much into them. Galatians 4:19-20 describes just a situation. The apostle Paul penned these thought-provoking words to Christians in first century churches in Galatia: "My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you, I would like to be present with you now and to change my tone; for I have doubts about you." Paul likens his work to bring the Galatians to Christ to that of a woman being "in labor in birth." It had not been easy to bring them to Christ. They had to be taught and convinced to leave old ways of believing and behaving in order to embrace the new way of life in Christ. Now some are turning back to their former way of life (see 1:6-9). That turn-around has put Paul into an unnatural situation. To describe it he insists he is laboring in birth pain "again"— that is, a second time. It was not easy to get them into Christ — but the pain he felt then has returned — over the same people. The pain is due to the fact that although they have been baptized into Christ (3:27), Christ is not being "formed" in them. It is not enough to Paul that they went through the outward ritual of baptism (though that itself was clearly an imperative). His desire and expectation is that their moral and spiritual beliefs and behavior will be so transformed that Jesus will show through! There will be outward proof of the inward transformation that is occurring as they become more Christ-like and more Christ-controlled. Because that was not happening, the apostle says bluntly, "I have doubts about you." The English Standard Version says, "I am perplexed about you." Paul was confused and puzzled as to how people could claim to be Christians and yet their walk lag so far behind their talk. How about you? Are you in Christ? Equally as important, is Christ being formed in you? If so, it will show up in the way you live your life - at home, on the job, in the church, in beliefs and words and attitudes. God wants you in Christ - but He also wants Christ in you. Think about it.

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ