by Pastor Tim Burt
To this day, one of the most mind-boggling thoughts of my life is to think that I grew up thinking I knew all about Jesus, only to come to realize that I didn’t understand His love or what He really accomplished for me! I didn’t really know Him at all!
I went to church the first 18 years of my life and heard the stories of the birth and death of Jesus Christ, and participated in serving. And yet at the age of 24 still didn’t understand why Jesus died or how it personally affected my life. I had a friend who served in Viet Nam. He jumped on a hand grenade that was thrown in the tent of he and his buddies. He jumped on it and saved their lives. I thought that was as bad as Jesus dying on a cross. I could not make the distinction. What made one death worse than another? I thought, Yes Jesus died on the cross. But my buddy died jumping on a hand grenade. Why is one brutal death better than another? I couldn’t make the distinction because I didn’t understand what Jesus had accomplished at the cross for you and me!
Radio, television, social media and every form of media broadcast a variety of mediums about the truth of Jesus Christ daily. I realized that people can be surrounded by God’s efforts to get the truth of Jesus and what He did for us, to them, yet still not know have learned His real purpose. People sing along with songs about Him at Christmas, watch the movies, and celebrate national holidays about Jesus’ birth and resurrection and still do not understand the truth of what God wants us to know about Jesus.
In the Old Testament, Israel was first a name that God gave to and renaming Jacob. Then the name Israel was used to describe the sons of Jacob and their families. And eventually their lineage. Then God began to call all of the descendants of Jacob, Israel. When God delivered His people from Pharaoh in Egypt and addressed them as Israel, through Moses, He revealed another name He had for them—“His treasured possession.” Little by little, God would reveal who His people really were to Him. He would instruct them how to live so that they could learn, imitate, and emulate His ways. Through these descendants of Jacob and a people now called Israel, He would reveal Himself and teach the world who He was as God to them. This was the calling of the Jewish people—becoming a particular nation of people, God’s chosen people—through whom He would reveal, His love, His character, His ways, and His instruction for moral, upright behavior and attitudes for the world to learn. They would be responsible to be a light to the world and to share God and all His ways with the world. It says in Exodus 19:5-6 (NIV), “Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation…” Their destiny was revealed. They were to be His influencers to impart God’s ways to the world.
Through Jesus Christ, God extended that privilege and responsibility to His Church—not just Jewish believers of Christ, but also to the gentiles who would come to believe in Him and receive Him as their Lord and Savior. That meant you and I!
Can you see where I am going with this? We would become His body—the body of Christ, to all the earth. It says in 1 Corinthians 12:27 (NIV), “Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” Through Christ, we would become a light to this world—a light to shine before all men. In Matthew 5:14 Jesus said, “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.”
The church is the body of Christ. In the Old Testament, it was the Jews only that had been assigned to be His influencers to the world. But when Jesus died, the gentile believers, now called the body of Christ, were also to become His influencers in this earth. We’ve all been given the commission to help share the love of Jesus Christ—who He was, and is, and what He has done for us. We are to share how He died on a cross to take the punishment that each and every human being deserved for their sins. He would suffer that punishment for us. He would die in our place. He would be punished in our place. He would go to Hell in our place. And through His mercy and forgiveness of our sins, He has offered us the gift of eternal life. No one, including me, was EVER meant to be in a church all their life without learning that Jesus paid the debt for our sins so that we could have eternal life and He did so as a GIFT—not something we could somehow earn by being good enough. No one would ever enter into Heaven by their own righteous merit.
For 24 years I was led to believe that I had to earn my way into Heaven by becoming good enough. I couldn’t ever seem to accomplish that. Until knowing this truth, I wanted to run from God because I was sure I’d go to Hell. And I believed this while going to a church every Sunday! Can you believe it? You can if you’ve experienced the same thing I did!
A friend of mine shared his experience with me after he started attending our church, “Pastor Tim, I have attended church with my wife for over 30 years. It seemed like the right thing to do for myself and my family. It was a religious experience in ceremony more than anything else. My mind frequently drifted during the service. There were readings from the Bible in church, but they were never talked about as God’s Word to us. They were just like a religious saying or quote. I was truly bored to tears but felt obligated to go. Then someone invited me here. Since I have started coming here, I feel like I have been in school learning the most basic things about God from the Bible that I should have learned and known all my life. I had never read the Bible until coming here, and I was in a church all my life. Now I can’t stop reading it. And I can feel God speaking to me through it! For the first time in my life, I feel like I have a real and intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. I never knew church could be like this.”
Not all Churches are created equal. Many exist but leave people not knowing or understanding who Jesus is. They’ve made him a religious figure instead of the Savior or our souls. They leave us ignorant of knowing His love and the sacrifice made so we could have eternal life—as a gift, not something we can be good enough to earn!
God called those who knew Him, “His treasured possession.” We can’t be that if we don’t first know Him personally ourselves. It is so important to get into a church that teaches the truths of God from the Bible so that you can learn of Him and understand how to be that “treasure possession” of God to this world. When that happens, you’ll overflow with His love and it will spill in words, kindness, and other ways to the world around us. Your life will begin to fulfill 1 Peter 3:15 (NIV): “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have…gentleness and respect…” This was the reason God raised up Israel and the Jews. And, it has become our inheritance and calling also through Jesus Christ. So know this and let your life and love for God fill your heart and overflow to the world around you. You are called as His “treasured possession” to be His influencer in this world. That is your calling and purpose!
If you don’t think you know Jesus to the degree you should, please read this to help you! “The Road to God’s Forgiveness and Salvation, and the Gift of Eternal Life.”
In His love,
Pastor Tim Burt
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