We will be resuming public, corporate worship at Real Life Church this Sunday, May 10 for all who are comfortable and want to join us.  Please watch this VIDEO outlining steps we are taking for your safety and guidelines we ask you to follow if you join us on site. We will also continue to live stream our worship service weekly on the RLC Facebook Page.

Living By Faith

Living By Faith: Episode One

April 1, 2020 Speaker: Josh DeGroote

Passage: Psalms 125:1–125:1, Psalms 93:1–93:2, Psalms 115:1–115:3, Romans 8:28–8:28, Romans 14:7–14:8

Introduction:

Welcome to Life of Faith podcast.  This is the first episode!! Thanks for checking this out.  This is a podcast where we look at current news and events, theology, practical issues, and a little bit of history from the perspective of the life of faith in Christ - I hope you find it helpful.  Let’s get started.

 

Current news and events

I want to start by talking a bit about the coronavirus situation.  Of course, coronavirus is dominating the news in America and abroad as the number of infected continues to mount.  President Trump and his coronavirus taskforce and state and local governments are scrambling to stop the spread of this deadly virus.  

The threat of the virus itself spreading is of utmost concern as the death toll continues to climb.  So at a national level and many states following suit are urging their citizens to stay home and go out only when necessary. If possible, work from home, go out only if you absolutely need to.  And in addition to this, some businesses have been ordered to close down in efforts to save lives.  

For the Christian, every human being is an image bearer and therefore each life is valuable and worthy of doing everything possible to save.

But it is not just the threat of getting the pandemic that is of concern.  There is also an enormous cost to the economy. As more companies are shutting their doors to comply with the governmental suggestions and in some cases mandate, more people are being laid off, which has significant ramifications for the future of families. The economic considerations to the pandemic itself and the response to it, are not insignificant as more and more real families with real people are feeling the consequences.  

All the more reason to be in prayer for those affected in various ways by the coronavirus.  Those sick with the virus and their families. And also for the president, congress, governors, state and local officials, and medical pros as they seek to mitigate the pandemic’s lethality and economic effects.  

As Christians, we need to think about these things through the lense of scripture.  We must not have our worldview formed by the secular media. We are constantly bombarded on television, and even more on social media with news and all of it is seeking to inform and shape how we view the world in general and this issue in particular.  Of course, news media can help us understand what is going on, but fail to give us ultimate answers, and the hope we so desperately need. In fact, with news coming 24/7, it is geared to keep you amped up, which then keeps you coming back for more. 

How should we view what is going on?  Well much could be said, but let’s start here.  Our overall posture should be one of calm trust in God.  We should steadfastly and resolutely determine to NOT get caught up in the pandemic of fear and hysteria.  “Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abides forever.” (Psalm 125:1).

 

And here is why we can have such steadfast, calm trust in God.  He rules the universe. The devil does not. Chance does not. Human beings do not.  The world is not just running its course like a clock winding down. God rules. The bible is explicit on this point:

 

The LORD reigns; he is robed in majesty; the LORD is robed; he has put on strength as his belt. Yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved. Your throne is established from of old; you are from everlasting. (Psalm 93:1-2)

Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness! Why should the nations say, ‘Where is your God?”  Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases. (Psalm 115:1-3)

And it is meant to give us great comfort that God is not wringing his hands wondering how things got so bad.  Because He rules AND he rules for his glory and for the greatest good of his redeemed people.  Romans 8:28 assures us that "for those who love God all things work together for good."  

 

Catechesis section

The next section is what I call the catechesis section.  What? For centuries Christians gave themselves to the practice of learning the doctrines of the Christian faith by way of a catechism.  Catechesis simple means to teach orally or instruct by word of mouth. Now, the practice of it has gone by the wayside and I think that is largely to our detriment.  We would benefit a lot from this practice. It would help to fill our minds and hearts with clear truth about God and godliness, and how we are called to live our lives before God.   

So I would like to make my way through a modern catechism which takes from a number of ancient, trusted ones and puts it in more modern vernacular.  New City Catechism (52 questions and answers with scripture - so one per week). You can buy the book online ($7.50) or you can download the app on your phone for free. 

Question: What is our only hope in life and death?  

Answer: That we are not our own but belong, body and soul, both in life and death, to God and to our Savior Jesus Christ.  

Because Jesus Christ died and with his blood purchased us for himself, we now belong to him.  The Father withheld nothing from us, but gave his own Son to adopt us into his family. And how should we respond?  By giving ourselves unreservedly to God. We don’t get to decide for ourselves what is right and wrong, what we want to do with our lives, and so forth.  We submit our plans, wills, and entire lives to God - motivated by love and gratitude to God. We belong to the Lord.  

Romans 14:7-8 - For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself.  For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord.  So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.

 

Christian History Section

[In the history section, I want to talk about an event that is relevant for us today.  It is the Plague of Cyprian] This plague hammered the Roman empire and Rome in particular between 249 - 262 AD.  At its worst, it caused upwards of 5,000 deaths a day in Rome. The way that Christian responded is quite stunning and it won admiration of outsiders and consequently won converts.

My prayer is that God would grant us the strength and courage today, with our own pandemic to live out the implications of the gospel before a watching world.  Dionysius, bishop of Alexandria, reported: 

Most of our brother Christians showed unbounded love and loyalty, never sparing themselves and thinking only of one another. Heedless of danger, they took charge of the sick, attending to their every need and ministering to them in Christ, and with them departed this life serenely happy; for they were infected by others with the disease, drawing on themselves the sickness of their neighbors and cheerfully accepting their pains. Many, in nursing and curing others, transferred their death to themselves and died in their stead.

This was very different from those who were not Christians.  Dionysius continues:

But with the heathen everything was quite otherwise. They deserted those who began to be sick, and fled from their dearest friends. They shunned any participation or fellowship with death; which yet, with all their precautions, it was not easy for them to escape.

Why this difference?  Well because of the love of Christ and the hope of eternal life that the Christians share in.  So as we navigate life with the coronavirus, we want to be careful to love our neighbor by seeking to do our best to not contribute to its spread, while also loving our neighbor by coming to the aid of those in need.  Strange times. Let’s be faithful, remembering we have a hope in Christ which cannot be taken away from us.  

Conclusion

Thanks again for listening to the Christ is Life podcast.  If you found it helpful, please like and share. Until next time, “may the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Spirit be with you all” (2 Corinthians 13:14).

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