The Importance of Being Earnest -

'And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?" And he said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets."'
-Matthew 22:35-40

“This side of heaven, we must resist defining spirituality as anything other than a deep devotion to Christ, the fruit of which is a lifestyle of daily worship of him and active service in his kingdom. We must be keenly aware of the covert danger of a Christless Christianity which passes itself off as something it is not, and in so doing, has the power to deceive and derail many. Christless Christianity gives false assurance of salvation, and when those who possess it “go out from us,” (1 John 2:19) it can fill true believers with doubt and confusion.” 
-Paul David Tripp, Broken Down House, p. 89

"As for those who can belong to the church, we can recognize them by the distinguishing marks of Christians: namely by faith, and by their fleeing from sin and pursuing righteousness, once they have received the one and only Savior, Jesus Christ. They love the true God and their neighbors, without turning to the right or left, and they crucify the flesh and its works."
- The Belgic Confession, Article 29, The Marks of the True Church

The telltale indications of the transforming grace of God in the heart of the Christian is that there is a genuine and earnest heart-love for God and genuine and earnest heart-love for one another. The sure work of the Spirit targets the destruction of the pervasive alienation we have with God and one another. In the redemptive work of Christ we are given new affections for God and new affections for one another. In the incomprehensible glory of the gospel those vital relationships (once obliterated by sin) are being restored, really and truly, and not just theoretically. As evidence of the Spirit's work God inclines our hearts toward Him in love. Once enemies, He counts us now as friends and opens our eyes to see His all-emcompasing loveliness. We now love Him earnestly from redeemed and ever-increasing affections. The same is true for our brothers and sisters. Where at one time alienation existed, we have been brought under the same banner of love together. Our affections for one another become transformed by the grace of God in the gospel. The wall of alienation has been broken down, and now we begin to love one another earnestly as well.

Life in the church consists of honest efforts directed at fostering growth for these new affections.  May God give us grace to pursue them earnestly.

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