Reforming church, culture and our city

Reforming church, culture and our city

Posts Tagged ‘forgiveness

A Portrait Of Dorian Gray … in each one of us

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The Picture of Dorian Gray is a novel by Oscar Wilde. It’s the story of Dorian Gray, a young man so physically attractive that he draws the attention of an artist who desires to make him the subject of his portrait. He tells Dorian that he’s never seen a face more attractive and pure. And when the painting is finished, as Dorian looks at his portrait, he’s taken in and deceived by the attractiveness and beauty of his own looks. So taken in and so deceived by his external appearance, that he begins to live a life of secret pursuits and self-indulgence. His external appearance remains untainted and pure, hiding a life of wickedness. Even murder leaves his physical appearance untouched. The years of hidden wickedness pass and one day, alone and suspicious, he uncovers the portrait he had kept hidden for so many years. And as he looks upon his portrait, he’s shocked by the ugly and hideous face that he now sees. The portrait now bears the scars of a life of hidden wickedness. Afraid of being found out, he hides the portrait, but his act comes to an end as the artist enters.

Seeing Dorian’s portrait, he realizes what has happened in Dorian’s life. He is overcome with grief and pleads with Dorian to turn his life around and seek God’s forgiveness. “Does it not say somewhere” he pleads, “Come now let us reason together. Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow. Though they are red as crimson, they shall be as white as wool.” But Dorian will not listen and in a fit of rage and anger he silences that voice with a knife. Reaching for the knife once again Dorian decides once and for all to destroy his portrait – removing the only visible sign and evidence of secret life of wickedness. The moment he plunges the knife into his portrait, the portrait returns to its beauty, and a disfigured and unrecognisable Dorian Gray lies stabbed to death on the floor.

The Picture of Dorian Gray you could say is a parable highlighting our problem. Many of us are deceived by our external appearance, that hides a darkness within. On the surface beauty, religion, morality, good works but beneath the surface, a deep seated self-centeredness and independence that has rejected our creator and God. We look alright, but we’re rebels in God’s world, choosing to live our way only for ourselves. Beauty on the outside that hides an ugliness within. And that’s the reason why Jesus died. He died to pay the penalty for our rebellion. He died to take the punishment for our rebellion. He was punished so that we might be forgiven. At the cross a great exchange takes place, where the innocent (Jesus) takes the place of the guilty (you and me) so that we might be right with our creator and God. God made Jesus who had no sin to take our sin for us, so that in him we might be right with God (2 Cor.5:21).

Appearances can be deceiving, and sometimes we deceive ourselves thinking that we’re good people. We think we don’t need God, and we certainly don’t think we need Jesus.  We’re not when you look at what lies within. You and I need Jesus to save us from ourselves and from the judgment we deserve for rejecting our creator and God.

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Baptism …

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Over the last few weeks, I’ve had the opportunity to revisit ‘baptism’ with some of our regulars at GracePoint preparing for baptism. It’s been both refreshing and challenging in reminding me of the importance of baptism for those who are followers Jesus. One of the questions people at church have often asked me is, ‘why should I get baptized?’ The answer is simply, because Jesus commanded it (Matt.28:18-20). And in obedience to Jesus command we see that whenever the first disciples of Jesus preached the gospel and men and women responded, they were baptized. Right after Peter preached at Pentecost and people believed, he baptized them (Acts 2:38-41). When the Philippian jailer believed, Paul baptized him and his whole family in the middle of the night (Acts 16:29-34). When the Ethiopian eunuch was converted, Philip baptized him in the desert (Acts 8:34-38). To neglect baptism is to disregard the command of Jesus, and to reject the sign of the gospel that God himself gives us for our benefit.

What many Christians fail to realize is that baptism is a sign of the saving work of Jesus in cleansing, forgiving and bringing us new life. Baptism is not my act of repentance, and neither does it signify repentance. In fact, in the New Testament, baptism is used as a sign of our being buried with Christ so as to share his risen life; being born again; having our sins washed away; having God’s judgment dealt with and being adopted into God’s family (Rom.6:3-4; John 3:5; Acts 22:16; 1 Cor.6:9-11l 1 Pet.3:21; Gal.3:27-29). Baptism is a sign of the saving work of Jesus! (Col.2:11-15) Baptism is not something that we should ignore if we’re Bible believing and Jesus loving Christians. That’s not to say that baptism saves you or that you are any less spiritual if you aren’t baptized. We’re saved by grace alone, through faith alone in Jesus alone (Eph.2:8-9)

But I would still ask the question, ‘why aren’t you baptized?’ Because baptism was not only commanded by Jesus, but also given for your benefit as an outward sign to symbolize an inward spiritual reality for those of you who have repented and trusted in Jesus and his saving work – a sign of the gospel’s promise to save or a sign of God’s salvation in cleansing, forgiving and giving you new life. Like a wedding ring that’s given with promises, every time a Christian looks at their baptism, it is a sign that serves as a reminder to them of God’s saving work in Jesus in saving them, cleansing them, forgiving them, and giving them new life.

As I said to those preparing for baptism, ‘baptism is God’s gift to you – a visible sign of the gospel that he gives you to encourage you, to strengthen you, to remind you of what Jesus has done for you’. When you are baptized, you are baptized on the authority of Jesus who is Lord of all things and holds all authority in heaven and on earth (Matt.28:19), effectively saying you belong to Him. When you are baptized, you are receiving the visible sign of God’s saving work in Jesus and what he’s done in cleansing, forgiving and giving you new life.

Let me encourage you if you haven’t been baptized, to do so, in obedience to the command of Jesus and for your own benefit and encouragement as a disciple of Jesus.

Written by eugenehor

June 27, 2008 at 2:47 pm