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




Are You A Normal Christian?

Did you hear about the preacher who rose to preach a deceased church member's funeral? He said, "The corpse has been a member of this church for thirty years." Jesus sent word to a church of Christ at first century Sardis, "I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead." And almost everybody has heard about the half-hearted approach to serving Jesus at Laodicea where the church was neither cold nor hot but lukewarm. Jesus put this church (and all churches since) on notice that He can't and won't stomach lukewarm religion. In jarring and vivid language He says bluntly, "So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth" (Revelation 3:1, 15, 16). Lukewarm Christians apparently make Jesus sick. Conversion to Christ ought to make a difference in our lives. As someone noted, "If your religion leaves you unchanged, you'd better change your religion." The kind of religion God desires can be seen in Acts 2. While some things recorded there are not repeatable or a part of the church's life today (Holy Spirit baptism, miracles, etc.), there are principles in this great chapter of the Bible that remain relevant to a vital, vibrant church in every age.

The disciples we read about in Acts 2 were not half-hearted Christians who had to begged to attend worship assemblies of the church or get involved in the work of the Lord. After a Christ-centered and fearless sermon that confronted hearers with their sin and guilt (2:14-36), there was a heaven-sent, Holy Spirit-guided answer to the question of what to do to be forgiven and saved from that sin (2:37-41). Some churches and preachers today won't raise or answer this question, and others change the inspired answer Peter and the other apostles gave. But on that day long ago about 3,000 believers repented and were baptized for forgiveness of sins under the terms of the Great Commission (Mark 16:15-16; Matthew 28:18-20). And talk about changed lives! Read Acts 2:41-47! What a church and what church members! Verse 42 says they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers." The New International Version says "they devoted themselves" to these things. These were devoted disciples! These things came first in their lives. The Greek word for "continued steadfastly" or "devoted" means "to be earnest towards a thing, to persevere, be constantly diligent; to attend assiduously all the exercises, or to adhere closely to; to give self continually upon" (Strong's Concordance). Wow! Christians devoted to Bible study, preaching, fellowship, and worship assemblies! Does your own approach to discipleship resemble that level of devotion? The problem in the church today is not that we don't know what it means to be devoted. We see and engage in devotion daily. People are devoted to jobs, hobbies, athletic activities, movies, music, TV shows, golfing, fishing, boating on the lake, eating out, and a thousand other things that are allowed to take precedence over "the apostles's doctrine and fellowship, the breaking of bread, and prayers." Vance Havner grabs our ears with this: "The church is so subnormal that if it ever got back to the New Testament normal it would seem to people to be abnormal." Normal Christians are devoted disciples. Take a real look — are you a normal Christian?

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ