Anchor On … The marks we bear
Saturday, February 11, 2017 5:30 AM
The one who is said to be “in Christ” has had a cataclysmic change in their life. They are spiritually “born again” (John 3:3) in a supernatural cleansing and conviction of heart. Old “earthly” views and pursuits “are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). That dynamic cleansing will need to be freshened up and renewed each day (even hourly) by the continued cleansing of prayer, the Word of God and fellowship
with serious Bible believers and witnessing to those who are not.
The cares of this life put tremendous pressure on each of us, and it is all too easy to brush over our desperate need to be filled up daily with God’s viewpoints and concerns. All too often, the children born into God’s family allow themselves to put distance between His heart and their own. They cool off and lose the distinctions that might have been more obvious to others.
Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5: “Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God” (verse 20). The main concern of life for the reconciled one is that others be given the opportunity to also be reconciled to God.
All too often, that responsibility to carry the good news of the Gospel to others is reabsorbed by the carnal nature.
We forget so quickly that our commission is to put Christ-likeness out where others can observe and partake of it.
Christ tells His disciples: “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:35). A large part of that is for us to bear in our lives “the marks of the Lord Jesus” (Galatians 6:17).
Without the outward marks of faith in Christ, we lose touch with our identity. If we are unwilling to carry the “brand” of Christ, we should ask ourselves about the honesty of our new birth. A beef calf in the open country of the western states, without a brand of identification, is known as a “maverick.” They carry no mark of ownership, loyalty or identification. There is no guardianship or watch care for the one who ranges in the wild
and does not belong to anyone but themselves (or so they may think).
The child of God needs to have a love for the associations with Christ and the marks that identify as such. The “birthmark” of the believer is the starting point that Christ insisted upon in John 3:3: “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” The spiritual “DNA” of God must be in the believer’s bloodstream if they are, indeed, a child of God.
The “water” mark is one that symbolizes death to the demands of sin, burial of the old life and resurrection to walk in the new. Baptism for the saved person expresses the desire to obey Christ. It is the outward symbol of the inner transaction and is a declaration of identification. In Acts 8, the Ethiopian eunuch asked Philip: “What doth hinder me to be baptized?’ And Philip said, ‘If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest.’ And he
(the eunuch) answered and said, ‘I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.’” The water mark is the first act of obedience for the child of God.
The “book” mark signifies the identification for a Christian as well. There should be a new zeal for better knowing and understanding what God says in His Word. When others see how you and I handle our Bibles, they are able to know what kind of Christians we are. As we daily work and walk through the Scriptures, they will leave some footprints on our lives. The Word of God is quick, powerful and sharp “and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrew 4:12). The book mark should be evident when we are students of it.
First Thessalonians 5:17 tells the child of God to “pray without ceasing,” and that should leave some “knee” marks on us. Prayer gives vision, and no one will live beyond their vision. No heart for God will thrive without much secret converse with Him. We are exhorted in 1 Timothy 2:1 “that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men.” It helps break our hearts for God, Who uses mostly broken things. The lad’s loaves were broken to feed the multitudes, the alabaster box was broken to anoint the Lord and His body was “broken” on the cross as He shed His blood to reconcile us to God.
There ought to be the mark of the Cross on the life of God’s child. Paul said in the book of Galatians that he was “crucified with Christ … but Christ liveth in me … I live by the faith of the Son of God” (2:20) and that “the world is crucified unto me” (Galatians 6:14), “and I unto the world.”
None of us will arrive at that pinnacle in this life, but the cross should be a whole lot more than something hung on our necks or slung behind our rearview mirrors.
The “ear” mark helps others identify a true Christian and then want to be like them. “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God,” declares Paul in Romans 10:17. It is through the ear that knowledge and clarity of understanding is most readily imparted. In verse 10 of the same chapter, we hear: “For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” Folks around us need to hear the truth that God has given and the Holy Spirit has clarified. Matthew declares, “Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I (Jesus Christ) confess also before my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 10:32).
We, as Christians, need to have the marks of the birth, the water, the Book, the knee, the Cross and the ear. Revelation 20:15 stresses the absolute necessity of the ink mark. It is indelible ink that God uses when He writes down our name into the book of life, and it either is or is not in there. The lake of fire in eternal hell awaits those who refuse to wear the marks of the redeemed.
Frail indeed is the thread that dangles the spiritually dead over the heartbeat of eternity. Wear the marks of true faith in Christ so that others may take heed. All too quickly will our window of opportunity to confess Christ be closed!
R.D. “Bob” Hottle is a retired schoolteacher, farmer and pastor of the Anchor Baptist Church.