Connecting the Dots - Day 16

Do you remember doing dot to dot pictures when you were a kid? Sometimes the picture was obvious before you even started, but there were other times that the picture did not become clear until you were well into the process of connecting the dots in the correct order. And if you decided to be bold and ignore the order, you often ended up with an incomplete picture.


One of the things you will likely have noticed by this 16th day of reading through the books of the New Testament, in order, is that the "picture" is getting clearer. My wife once commented to me how most people read through the Bible like they do a magazine - by picking out the articles that are interesting to them. Now this is not useless, for we read a lot of good things from the Bible by reading about what interests us most, but this random walk through the Bible never gives us a complete picture.


Consider how much clearer your own view of the Bible has become in these past few days. There are things that you may have never grasped before as fully as you do now. Take today's reading of Acts 26 through Romans 6 as an example. We had already read of the Good News of the Kingdom of God mentioned on a number of occasions. This Good News is the literal meaning of the word "Gospel" and it is this Gospel of Christ that is the focus of the New Testament. This Gospel includes everything from the Old Testament prophesies that pointed to Christ, to His ministry here on earth, and finally to the crowning act of the Good News, the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. In a few days, we will read in I Corinthians 15, how Christ's death, burial and resurrection are of first importance in the Gospel.


Further on, in I Thessalonians 1:8, and in I Peter 4:17, we have a clear warning as to what will happen to those who do not obey the Gospel - but how exactly do we obey the Gospel? That's the "dot" that is connected very well in today's reading in Romans 6:1-11. In this passage we are cautioned against using God's grace as permission to keep on sinning. Paul reminds us that we have died to sin, and have been buried with Christ. This is the role that repentance and baptism play, but note the most important part: We are told that those who have died like this will certainly live with Christ forever because of His resurrection. In fact, I Peter 3:21 clarifies it even further by revealing that those who have been baptized correctly have done so as a pledge of a good conscience and are saved, not by the removal of dirt from the flesh, but through the resurrection of Jesus Christ!


And now we know how we take part in the death, burial and resurrection in our area of obedience to the Gospel. It is when a believer dies to sin, is buried in water, and is raised to walk a newness of life. It should be noted at this point that this is God's plan, not man's. Should we decide to attempt to obey the Gospel in any other way, we might well find ourselves with a picture that is not as pretty as we had hoped for. For as any child knows, when you connect the dots in an order of your own choosing, you never end up with the same result as the creator of that picture had in mind.


Perhaps in the past you have connected the dots of the Gospel plan in your own way. But, you are no longer going your own way, now that you know exactly what is at stake. Isn't it nice to know that we can still take advantage of God's wonderful grace, and begin to live for Him in His way. This is one of the best parts of the Good News of Jesus Christ our Lord!