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September 5, 2010
“B” Students - #1
Students in academic studiesare given special note when they are “A” students. In most systems an “A” indicates the pinnacle of academic achievement. Let’s think in spiritual terms and make a bit of a grammatical play on the verb “be.”
God is most pleased with “B” students. In fact, attaining the level of “B” as a disciple of the Lord is the pinnacle of spiritual achievement. There are some specific areas in which God requires us to attain “B” status. Let’s look at a few of them.
Peter, in Acts 2:40, says, “And with many other words he solemnly testified and kept on exhorting them, saying, ‘Be saved from this perverse generation!’” The people who heard Peter’s sermon on the day of Pentecost had sin in their lives. Peter explained to them the actions of Jesus the Christ on their (and all men’s) behalf. They wanted to DO something about their plight.
“Repent and be baptized,” was the response of Peter. This obedience provided forgiveness of sin. What did forgiveness of sin mean? Salvation — that’s why Peter could say, “Be saved …!”
The only ones who heard Peter that made a “B” in this spiritual sense were the ones who listened and obeyed. “So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls.” (Acts 2:41).
Notice, the action took place because of something that happened in their heart. “Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Brethren, what shall we do?’” (Acts 2:37). Peter talked about this in one of his letters, too. “Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you — not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience — through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (1Peter 3:21).
Now these people were different from the others in their “perverse generation.” This leads us to our next “B.”
“B” Separate; “B” Holy
To be “holy” is to be separate, to be set apart for a purpose. One who is saved is set apart — set apart for God. The apostle Paul quotes from the old covenant Jehovah made with His people of Israel to remind us of how important it is to be holy, ““Therefore, COME OUT FROM THEIR MIDST ANDBE SEPARATE,” says the Lord. “AND DO NOT TOUCH WHAT IS UNCLEAN; And I will welcome you.” (2Corinthians 6:17). This “being separate” is Paul’s answer to the rhetorical question he had just posed, “Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever?” (2Corinthians 6:15). Just as the Israelites were to be different than the nations around them, those who are obedient believers are to be different from the world around us.
The reason we are different, is because we are new. “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” (2Corinthians 5:17). We are walking in a new life, in a new way. “Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.” (Romans 6:4). Newness of life means we no longer are slaves of sin, but of righteousness (see Romans chapter 6).
Serving righteousness, our behavior is different and people will notice. “For the time already past is sufficient for you to have carried out the desire of the Gentiles, having pursued a course of sensuality, lusts, drunkenness, carousing, drinking parties and abominable idolatries. In all this, they are surprised that you do not run with them into the same excesses of dissipation, and they malign you” (1Peter 4:3‑4). Once again, Peter admonishes us, “but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, “YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.” (1Peter 1:15-16).
How can we “be separate” in our lives? Just like in being saved, it has to begin in our heart. We must make a conscious decision to take action. How can we make that decision? Let’s look at our next “B.”
Paul, in the latter section of his letter to the Romans (beginning at the twelfth chapter), makes very specific references as to what the behavior of the saved is to be. He lays the foundation of how it starts by reminding us, “And do not be conformed to this world, butbe transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2). We see that to be “transformed” starts with our mind being renewed. We also see how different it is from being “conformed” to this world. The two things are opposite. This fits right in with what we have noticed about being “separate” from the world and being “saved” from our perverse generation.
How is our mind renewed? It is pretty simple — it is by putting the right things into our minds and hearts. Notice what else Paul says, “for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord.” (Ephesians 5:8-10). He says “try to learn.” God has provided His truth for us, just for that purpose, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” (2Timothy 3:16-17).
God’s word tells us exactly how to think so as to be transformed — have our minds renewed, “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” (Philippians 4:8).
We must take the words of God into our very being. The prophet Jeremiah stated this beautifully and forcefully, “Your words were found and I ate them, And Your words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart; For I have been called by Your name, O LORD God of hosts.” (Jeremiah 15:16).
This transforming of our minds leads to a transformed behavior. We learn to act right and treat others right. This will be the basis for our next two “Bs” in the next issue.
— S. Scott Richardson Sr.