We will continue with our study on Daniel next week! We at Aha Bible Moments hope you and your loved ones have a blessed Resurrection Sunday. May we celebrate Jesus Christ our risen Savior!
Each season of the year has both its good and it’s not so wonderful parts to it. Spring brings the “bounce” back into summer lover lives. Summer has it sunshine and warmth, fall brings it colors and cooler weather; winter brings its non-discerning snow that blankets the good, bad and ugly of every neighborhood. But, there are also the rougher sides to each season. To most these downsides need not to be elaborated. They are personal perspectives. It also depends on which part of the world in which one is located. Winter in Argentina is summer in the northern hemisphere. So…it all depends upon the observer. One size never fits all. Plus, it greatly depends on what the observer sees compared to his or her expectations.
What about seasonal Christianity? The control word here is “consistency.” One size does not fit all but all should have the same joy of Jesus…but we don’t; neither in our eyes nor in the eyes of those who observe. Experience has taught us two, if not three, vital principles about what today is called Christianity and what the Book of Acts teaches (actually the entire Bible attempts to teach us if and when we seek, then we will find).
- If a true believer does not feel as close to God as s/he once did, even if it was just a few minutes ago, it isn’t God who moved. But, it is observed by others.
- Being a Christian is a life style, not a religion or denomination. Life styles are observable. In this case the old saying, “Do as I say not as I do” is foreign to a believer and his or her witness by observation.
- If we are neither hot nor cold per living a life in Christ, God has a bad taste in his mouth per that individual and HIS observation.
- MAYBE 4 PRINCIPLES…We may be the ONLY “Bible” a neighbor, fellow worker, casual observer, or person on the street ever reads.
Is it tough to be a believer in Christ? NO! But, a believer in Christ is a two word statement: to BE and to LIVE (believe). Is it tough to live the life of a believer? Only if we are more concerned about appearances, culture, social expectations, staus and what different people groups (Church, work, recreational, part of town…any observer) “may” think of us” including inabilities to forgive all who have sinned against us.
Matthew 6:14 & 15 makes it very clear. If we forgive others as in everyone for his or her sins against us, the heavenly Father will forgive us. If we do NOT FORGIVE others who violate us, then the same heavenly Father will not forgive us.
Forgiveness does not mean one must find a way to become a bosom buddy or be socially tolerant of bible compromises. It does mean to not hold it in one’s heart as an issue losing sleep over it or poisoning conversations “over the fence” as one might say. The Greek word translated as “forgive” in the New Testament, aphiēmi, carried a wide range of meanings, including to remit (a debt), to leave (something or someone) alone, to allow (an action), to leave, to send away, to desert or abandon, and even to divorce. Forgiveness is an action, not a feeling. Unfortunately to some, forgiveness per the Bible also means to “not speak against or slander.” Feelings get in the way of our actions.
The late J. Harold Smith once put it, “when one person (studies) reads the Bible, one hundred people read our lives” (emphasis mine). In 2 Corinthians 3:2 we read…(ESV) You yourselves are our letter (epistle) of recommendation, written on our hearts, to be known and read by all. It can be read in every language without interpretation. In biblical terms, we are epistles and (small letter “a”) apostles. Many will likely think or state, I simply can’t live by these standards. I slip up and people see that also. To think or even share that is an absolute truth, but to confess a wrong or hard feeling is part of being an epistle. This too is seen and read by observers. Paul called himself a sinner.
In no way does this article or the Bible suggest compromise as a solution to forgiving or getting along with the world. Forgiveness does not mean being tolerant. As true believers (to be and to live) we are told to not conform to the ways of the world as a way of life but to personally transform our hearts to reflect Christ in us. Compromise is the current vogue or way of this world.
We do not compromise with the devil. He is the prince and power of this world. Jesus said in John 14:30 ”…for the ruler (Satan) of this world is coming. He has no claim on me.” SIDE NOTE: Any who wish to be skeptics by pointing out that as this verse suggests Satan is coming so he is not yet here, read on. The Greek for ‘coming’ is “er’-khom-ahee.” It means “a middle voice verb used only in the present imperfect tense.” Huh? Yup! It means already present.
This is why we are commanded to “not conform to this world.” It is a matter of transforming our lives TO Christ even more so than from the world. It is a bit like two parallel efforts but the same goal. We should not need to run from sin as much as we should run to our salvation. Do we run from a danger or do we run to safety? Running from something does not assure we are ever far enough away from it to avoid some form of contact with it. Running to safety is specific. We YADDA (know) when we get there. Running to Christ is leaving a sinful life behind. Praise God there is sin forgiveness.
In a very real sense, this reflects what E. M. Bounds (1835-1913) put it in one of his great writings.
We have a wrong estimate of what we think is a Church’s strength. Paraphrasing him, Mega-churches must have it right because they have appeal and are MEGA for a reason of some form of demonstrative strength; size; beauty; parking spaces; awesome sound systems; music. To grasp a true churches strength we must go back and study, meaning STUDY to the Book of Acts for what it says, not for some form of starting point after which we adjust “church” to fit culture(s), men’s design, and political correctness to not be offensive. The church is not a building or denomination. Denominations or the lack of one is not the church. Believers are the church.
As Mr. Bounds puts it, “Church (Christianity) strength does not consist in its numbers and its money, but in the holiness of its members (emphasis mine).
Ephesians 4:4 backs him up…One body, and one Spirit, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all. Here in this verse, preceding verses, or following verse can anyone find the church having anything to do with possessions, size, wealth, “eloquence [that] fills the pulpit (Bounds)”, and check book balances. These are all (kole in the Hebrew and pas in the Greek) man measures. E. M. Bounds adds, “The aggregate of the personal holiness of the members of each [congregation; one church] is the only measure of strength.” Like the oft used example of a “whatever” is only as strong as its weakest link.” Knowledge or even understanding is not an eternal choice.
There was a time when sin would slink around side streets and dark alleys (men love darkness rather than light). Today due to tolerance, political correctness, coming out of closets, and civil compromise, it is found in parades, flaunted on the Internet, heard and seen on the news, and in our school curriculum. Lord, forgive us for we have sinned as a church, a people, a nation, a creation. A. W. Tozer put it well when he wrote, “There is no middle ground. The Lord does not recognize ‘agreeing to disagree’.”
Being in church does not make one a Christian (sheep) by association. Neither can a Christian school, bible college education or being raised in what one considers a Christian family, make one a member of God’s family; even if a member of a local mega-denomination. I shared this with another person some time ago. He said, “Now you are getting personal.” I agreed.
Rev. Dr. Jstark
April 13, 2019