Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A Brief Thought on Spiritual Genealogy

“For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel”
(1 Corinthians 4:15 ESV)

In this verse Paul is reminding the Corinthians of his special relationship to them. He was blessed to have many spiritual children in the Lord among them whom he witnessed to, taught, and ministered to. Those who ministered to us by teaching us the gospel and witnessing the Truth are obviously tremendous blessings in our lives and we would do well to give thanks unto God for bringing them to us.

All glory and honor must go to God for our salvation and so we do not spend too much time thinking about the fact that there is a long unbroken line of witnesses from us back to Christ Himself. As believers we are part of a family or culture of people that crosses not only across national and tribal boundaries but across the centuries as well. The Lord’s providence is amazing! If you think about the message of salvation being preached throughout the ages until it came to you and of all the sacrifices and prayers through the ages that God provided through His people to bring you to Him it can be a bit overwhelming.

There are many websites and software programs that allow us to do research into our physical lineage. It is often interesting to trace our physical genealogy because it places us into a historical context and gives us a sense of identity. We do not need this kind of thing in our spiritual lives because Christ Himself is sufficient for all of that and through the Word we have the same Apostolic teaching as the first Christians had. We focus directly on the work of God in salvation but we also recognize that it pleases Him to use means and we can glorify Him as we give thanks to Him for those who have played a part in our hearing the Word.

Some of us are blessed to have overlap between those in our physical lineage and those in our spiritual lineage and some are not. In either case we will be spending eternity with those who faithfully witnessed the Truth of the Gospel through the ages until our own time. It is interesting to think about our spiritual genealogies and how it is that God worked through countless lives so that we might hear the gospel. How different many of those people’s lives, circumstances, and experiences must have been from our own and yet we are all united by faith in the same promise. In the most significant ways we have much more in common with all of them regardless of language, culture, and time than we do with our own unbelieving neighbors. Praise God for those whom He has used to bring us to Him and may the Lord bless each of us so that through our ministries and witnessing others might be saved and joined to Christ and to us.

“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.”

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