Sunday, November 19 , 2017, 3:03 am | Fair 42º

 
 
 
 

D.C. Collier: How Can I Join God’s Cosmic Party?

Last week, we reminded you that God is eagerly recruiting new members into His eternal cosmic enterprise and populating heaven with an all-volunteer host of new family members, joining God in His creative endeavors.

But what are the “qualifications” to get into such a select assembly? Do I have to attend the “right” church, be baptized, perform religious rituals, read certain books? What does it take to belong, and how much do I have to pay? How will I know if I’ve joined the right organization?

This is where things can get murky for most people.

If you were to ask 100 people what a Christian is, you would likely get 100 different answers. Regrettably, there is widespread confusion on this issue, due in no small part to relentless pressure on churches to dumb down their message to attract the maximum number of congregants.

It’s easy to get mired in religious minutia and lose the “pearl of great price” that lies at the center of our very reason for being. No, it’s not about the building we meet in, or the denomination we belong to. Nor is it about some theological test that we think we’ve passed.

Ultimately, either you have the Holy Spirit, or you do not. Consequently, either you are “God’s own possession,” or you are not.

To illustrate, a Geiger counter detects the presence of radioactivity and emits a strange crackling sound in response. Suppose there was a “Holy Spirit counter,” which could positively identify whether a person has been “signed, sealed and delivered by the Holy Spirit.”

Scripture asserts unequivocally:

“You (those who are already Christians), however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ.”1

A touching illustration of the clear mark of belonging to God comes in a decidedly candid exchange between God and Moses, Israel’s leader during their exodus out of slavery in Egypt. At a time when God was frustrated with Israel’s continued intransigence in following Moses’ leadership, Moses approached God with this:

“Look, you tell me, ‘Lead this people,’ but you don’t let me know whom you’re going to send with me. You tell me, ‘I know you well and you are special to me.’ If I am so special to you, let me in on your plans. That way, I will continue being special to you. Don’t forget, this is your people, your responsibility.”

God said, “My presence will go with you. I’ll see the journey to the end.”

Moses said, “If your presence doesn’t take the lead here, call this trip off right now. How else will it be known that you’re with me in this, with me and your people? Are you traveling with us or not? How else will we know that we’re special, I and your people, among all other people on this planet Earth?”

God said to Moses, “All right. Just as you say; this also I will do, for I know you well and you are special to me. I know you by name.”2

What is the unmistakable mark of belonging to God? His very presence with you. That’s where the sealing and indwelling Holy Spirit comes in.

It also means, as God said to Moses, “I’ll see your journey to the end ... I know you well and you are special to me. I know you by name.”

It is the same today as it was 3,500 years ago — not a relationship with a detached, remote, standoffish God, but with One who is invested, connected and involved — a God who knows your name!

A Case of Missing the Point

Now here is where more confusion comes in. Lots of people know about God. They can even study theology, memorize scripture, and be conversant in the Greek and Hebrew languages of the Bible, yet remain total strangers to God. During his sojourn on earth, Jesus Christ ran into such people all the time — in fact, they dogged his every step.

Here is what Jesus had to say to them in one of many exchanges:

“You have your heads in your Bibles constantly because you think you’ll find eternal life there. But you miss the forest for the trees. These Scriptures are all about me! And here I am, standing right before you, and you aren’t willing to receive from me the life you say you want.

“I’m not interested in crowd approval. And do you know why? Because I know you and your crowds. I know that love, especially God’s love, is not on your working agenda.”3

The Bible was never intended to be an end in itself — instead, it reveals a Person who is more than willing to be known personally and to impart the gift of eternal life (Gr: zóé)4 that is so desperately needed if we want to join Him in His eternal kingdom.

Yes, it is true that religion may be able to make us improved citizens of earth, but only Jesus, through the Holy Spirit, can make us fit citizens of heaven. Period.

More on this life-and-death matter next week.

D.C. Collier is a Bible teacher, discipleship mentor and writer focused on Christian apologetics. A mechanical engineer and Internet entrepreneur, he is the author of My Origin, My Destiny, a book focused on Christianity’s basic “value proposition.” Click here for more information. Click here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

1. Romans 8:9 New International Version (NIV)

2. Exodus 33:12–17 The Message (MSG)

3. John 5:39-41 The Message (MSG)

4. zōḗ – life(physical and spiritual). All life throughout the universe, is derived – i.e. it always (only) comes from and is sustained by God’s self-existent life. The Lord intimately shares His gift of life with people, creating each in His image which gives all the capacity to know His eternal life.” Source: http://biblehub.com/greek

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click here to get started >

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.



Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >

Meet Your Realtor Sponsored by Village Properties


Elizabeth Wagner
"I consider myself to be an up front and honest agent and willing to talk my clients out of purchasing a property that isn’t right for them or won’t meet their needs in a year or two."

Full Profile >