Monday, July 22, 2013


It is common today for certain words to be 'spiritualized' and made to mean either more or less than the context of the Scriptures would allow. This has always been the case though, as man has been warned consistently not to add to or take away from the revealed word of God (Deuteronomy 4:2; 12:32; Proverbs 30:6; Ecclesiastes 3:14; Revelation 22:18).

One such word is relationship, misused by both the world and the church. For example, God has identified a proper physical relationship as between a man and a woman ... and within the boundaries of marriage ... yet the word relationship is regularly used by those engaged in sinful actions such as homosexuality, fornication and adultery.

The word is also misused within church circles. Many congregations have purpose statements that reflect the following: “We desire to bring all people into a saving relationship with Christ Jesus, and a family relationship with one another through Christ.” While that sounds wonderful, many such congregations present differing views of what it means to enter into relationship with Christ, and their relationship with one another is based solely on the fact that they call themselves Christians. In many cases, neither the truth of Scripture nor the evidence of righteous behavior come into play before declaring such “relationships.” To me, it is not unlike the first grade boy and girl on the playground who swap toys and call one another boyfriend and girlfriend. It is clear that in their immaturity they have no clue what they're talking about.

But there is a proper usage of the term … if we let the Scriptures speak. The primary definition of relationship is 'the state of being related.' Technically, all men who are the offspring of Adam and Eve are “related,” but that is only a physical relationship. I'm interested in the spiritual relationship.

According to the word of God, we become "sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:26). We “have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God” (1 Peter 1:23).

As Christians, we are reminded that we are "of God's household" (Ephesians 2:19). We "are no longer a slave, but a son" (Galatians 4:7). Right "now we are children of God" (1 John 3:2), and in fact considered "as beloved children" (Ephesians 5:1). "The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God" (Romans 8:16).

This was by God's design. We were "predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren" (Romans 8:29). We "have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” (Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:5-6). Even though we “were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds” (Colossians 1:21), now we are considered "heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ" (Romans 8:17)..

Our relationship with one another though is not one “in name only,” as practiced throughout Christendom. Jesus taught us to pray to "our Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 6:9). The only thing then that could possibly make us brothers is having the same Father. If your Father tells you one thing to be saved yet tells me another, there's a problem. God has explained His will within His word. Only by submitting to God do we prove Him our Father, and by extension that we are brothers.

How do I enter into a proper relationship with God? I must be “washed ... sanctified, [and] ... justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:11). I must repent of my sin, be baptized into Christ, and allow His blood to wash away that sin, never to return to it again.

How do I enter into a proper relationship with my brothers and sisters in Christ? In like manner, as the Scriptures say, “Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? [15] Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? [16] Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, “I WILL DWELL IN THEM AND WALK AMONG THEM AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE [17] Therefore, COME OUT FROM THEIR MIDST AND BE SEPARATE,” says the Lord. “AND DO NOT TOUCH WHAT IS UNCLEAN; and I will welcome you. [18] And I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to Me,” Says the Lord Almighty” (2 Corinthians 6:14-18).

It is oh so popular to declare “a personal relationship with Jesus,” but the proof – as they say – is in the pudding. If you know nothing of God's word and live more like the world than like Christ, then I have to assume your relationship status is false. If you claim to be my brother, then act like it. “By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother” (1 John 3:10).

But if you DO have a proper relationship with the Lord, well … “How blessed is the man who finds wisdom and the man who gains understanding. [14] For her profit is better than the profit of silver and her gain better than fine gold. [15] She is more precious than jewels; and nothing you desire compares with her” (Proverbs 3:13-15).

And if you DO find someone who has equally surrendered to the will of the Lord, someone with whom you can truthfully say you are in Christian relationship, then “there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24).

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