Dear Canaan English Ministry members and friends,
Last week, I asked you if you worried about “missing out on salvation.” So here’s a thought about the topic…
The greatest danger for people who grew up in a church or a Christian family is to assume they are saved. They may have been baptized, made a decision to follow Jesus, and participated in all kinds of church activities – but unless Jesus has made a deep and lasting impression, they should not assume they have been saved.
The clearest indication of salvation is when Christians bear the fruit of the Spirit. In Galatians, when Paul mentions the ninefold fruit of the Spirit, he is not merely describing a fruit-bearer’s personal character. Paul is describing a faith community’s lasting impression. It is the church’s marks of salvation. The fruit of the Spirit is the lasting impression we, as a community, leave with others.
This is why the most important lesson for followers of Jesus to learn is how to be brothers and sisters in Christ. We must learn how to build up our faith community so that it leaves a lasting impression of Christ on our community. The Kingdom of God is made visible by brothers and sisters in Christ who are building a kin-dom of love and righteousness.
So before we choose our college, launch our career, find a boyfriend or girlfriend, get married and have children, we must learn how to be brothers and sisters in Christ. I would even go as far to say that we cannot have an authentic relationship with God without learning how to build up the kin-dom of God. If we cannot be accountable and vulnerable to people who are visible, how can we do likewise with God, who is invisible?
Have a look at Pastor Fred Mok’s recent blog:
The sad reality is that most churches in America do a very poor job of cultivating kin-dom practices. Our individualism and consumerism robs us of the ability to cultivate the good soil of community. It leads to shallow faith. As a result many people who were raised in the church do not stay connected to their faith.
Church “drop outs” begin in middle school. Third and fourth graders who do not learn how to be a fellowship have difficulty connecting with their peers during the preadolescent years. High school students who don’t learn how to build and lead a youth fellowship as freshmen and sophomores often drop out by their junior and senior years because they are distracted by college preparation and have found closer friends in school rather than at church. And for adults in transition, there is a very, very short window to build a genuine Christian community. Returning college grads will not usually stay in a church if they do not have a supportive community within the first six months of their return. Singles who pair up will usually drop out of or drastically reduce their church engagement unless they were taught that being a Christian brother or sister is the more fundamental relationship. The same is true for newlyweds and parents raising very young kids.
So unless we learn how to make our Christian brothers and sisters a priority, we will all be tempted to pursue our own interests first. Salvation is a life-long experience, but not everyone who claims to be a Christian will make it to the very end.
This is why at Canaan, we must teach our children and youth the skills necessary for building up a community of faith. They cannot simply be passive recipients of information. Instead they must learn to put the interest of the church, their fellowship, and one another above their own. They must lean how to lead, mobilize, coordinate, and equip each other. They must learn how to follow, cooperate, and sacrifice for one another. In the long run, they will devote themselves to investing in and building up Canaan (and any church that they are called to) because they know that the fruit of salvation can only be cultivated as the church is built up. But best of all, their faith will endure to the end. And they will leave a lasting impression of Christ!
See you Sunday!
Tim Tseng 曾 祥 雨 :: Ph.D.
Pastor of English Ministries