Wednesday, June 24, 2009

It's Perfect, But I Don't Want It

Such a statement sounds ridiculous, does it not? How can something be truly perfect, but we would want no part of it? Yet, we see this over and over again in the spiritual lives of not only young people, but a majority of all people. We now will look at two questions from our questionnaire. The first reads as follows:
I believe the Bible to be true:
A. Completely 92%
B. Pretty Much 4%
C. Somewhat 3%
D. It's a joke 1%

Not a shocking result; pretty much as expected. 92% of our IFB young people believe the Bible to be completely true. There is a small percentage of those that are in doubt somewhat; but a vast majority agree the Bible is Completely True! The next question read as follows:
I follow the Bible in my life:
A. Completely 20%
B. Pretty Much 53%
C. Somewhat 23%
D. It's a joke 4%

Now, I appreciate the honesty, and would love to see the results of the same poll to all church members; but why the drop in percentage when it comes to obedience?
I thought, perhaps, that to say "completely" some may attribute that to perfection, and none of us are perfect. Perhaps, "pretty much" is the best we can do in the flesh. I truly doubt any of us can honestly say we are completely following the Bible in every aspect of our life, so my initial disgust was somewhat swayed after meditating on the results. Perhaps if I could do it again, the question would better read, "I attempt to follow the Bible in my life..."
Here are the facts: The Bible is the Word of God, it is completely true, and we should endeavor to follow the Bible with our lives completely! There is a word that is less used today, and even less practiced today; that word is loyalty. Herein lies a great problem for our churches and faith. Very few understand loyalty.
Most today in our churches would define loyalty as "sticking with the pastor" or "not missing church." That is not loyalty. True spiritual loyalty is submission to God's Word and faithfulness to it-no matter the cost.
This type of loyalty is seen in Joseph as he refused Potiphar's wife's temptations; in Moses as he 'refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter'; in Daniel as he purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself. We need this kind of loyalty. The type of loyalty that allowed Stephen to be stoned, Mark drug to pieces, Paul and John the Baptist beheaded, Timothy beaten, Ignatius and Germanicus thrown to wild beast, and Polycarp to state: "Eighty and six years have I served Him and He never once wronged me, how shall I blaspheme my King who hath saved me?" as he stood before the flame of martyrdom.
Loyalty! Knowing God's Word is true and living in accordance to it. Paul expected loyalty in Colossians 1. After reminding the church at Colosse of just Who Jesus is and what He has done for us, he then stated in verse 23, "If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel which ye have heard..." That word "if" does not mean 'chance' but rather 'because of these things.' (Used in the same way as John 14 "if I go and prepare a place for you;" and 1 Cor. 15 "if Christ be risen from the dead...). Paul expected those who understood Who Jesus was and what He had done for them to be loyal to Him! This loyalty is, as Romans 12 reads, 'reasonable service.' We should desire nothing else but to be found loyal to the Lord.
God's Word is not only perfect, but it should also be something we all want to be real and true in our lives.
I believe most who would take the time to read this truly believe God's Word is completely true; but for some reason, many take the attitude that while It is true, it's beyond our capability to do it and therefore we accept a mediocre Christianity. As long as we go to church most of the time and give, we consider ourselves o.k. As long as our kids don't grow up to kill anybody and they go to some kind of church periodically and have a home and a good job, we did all right as parents. There is a word in Revelation that describes this (and it's not loyalty)-lukewarm; and it makes God sick.
God said "Be ye holy; for I am holy." (1 Peter 1:16). I understand that I can't be as holy as God now-but God desires that I strive to be, and therefore I should.
We must not teach our young people to be or accept being "pretty much" or "somewhat" a good Christian, but rather teach them to strive to be completely faithful to the Lord in obedience to His Word.
If His Word is Perfect-and it is-then we should want it-with all our hearts-to be real and true in our lives...completely.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

He had this testimony, that he pleased God

The above title is taken from Hebrews 11:5 in reference to a well-known Old Testament hero, Enoch. Most remember Enoch as the man who never died; but more important to understand is the cause behind this miracle. According to the verse, it was because he pleased God. So how did he please God? In Genesis 5:22-24, it was that he walked with God, apparently not a common practice in those days; to be honest, not a common practice in our day either. In spite of all of our knowledge and ability and programs and everything else "Christian", we spend more time convincing ourselves of our spirituality, than spending it with God. It is he that changes people, it is He that heals the hurt, yet we tend to keep trying more and more of the world's methods to accomplish God's work.
The results from polling our youth showed a trend that seems to unfortunately be growing among independent Baptists - treating Christianity as a ritual to be performed instead of a relationship to be pursued. If we polled the adults from these same churches, would we find much difference in result? We have come a long way from our predecessors. Today's Baptists are known for three things - eating at every gathering, always being late, and never wanting to change. In other words we're bordering on gluttony, tardiness, and stubbornness. In truth, it should be just the opposite - we should be known for the prayers we see answered as a result of fasting, always in a hurry to be on time, and always looking for areas in our life that need change. Enoch is a great example of this. Reading Genesis 5:22 it says that Enoch walked with God after he begat Methusaleh. Why would it word it that way? Most commentaries believe that the meaning of Methusaleh's name had something to do with the flood. This apparently shook Enoch up enough that he turned his life around. Was he a wicked man before this? The Bible doesn't say, but just being a good person doesn't mean you walk with God. In fact, the closer you get to God, the more wicked that you see yourself. Do our young people see change in us? Or are we to proud to admit that the way we were was not pleasing to God, so we just trudge on forward never stopping to realize that the proud hard heart we turn towards God is going to develop in our children as well, no matter how many Christian things we involve them in? The Bible is clear to warn us not to grieve or quench the Spirit of God who dwells in us. Having a walk with God is not something we can fake, nor is it something that happens by accident. It is, however, something that will evident enough in the life of the believer that we won't need to convince anyone of it's reality.
Enoch had this testimony, that he pleased God. Each one of us also has a testimony - what's yours?