Saturday, February 7, 2015
Why do you Sleep? Luke 22:46
In my conversations with a number of professing Christians over the last some months I have observed a strange occurrence that seems to be pandemic in the church at large. There are Christians that seem to know quite little about the Bible, and therefore know just as little about the God whose Bible it is.
Concurrently, there is a very prominent drift to redefine God with attributes that we find acceptable. If we, without God’s word the Bible to direct and correct our thoughts, find something permissible, we in turn assume God thinks likewise. In turn God says, “These things you have done and I kept silent; you thought that I was altogether like you; but I will rebuke you,” Psalm 50:21. Also, the Lord tells us “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways…for as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts,” Isaiah 55:8-9.
Christians, when not properly armed with knowledge derived from the Bible and internalized by Spirit-led study, reverse the order of our thinking. God’s word is provided, for one reason, to provide structure for our thinking. We can only “think God’s own thoughts after Him” by first knowing what those thoughts are. If we are deficient in this category we leave a vacuum that tends to be filled by cultural or philosophical influences, or one’s own subjective and specious feelings and opinions. But this is not how God’s word came into being: “For prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit,” 2nd Peter 1:21.
Christians in such a vulnerable position are prone to being misled and deceived by any aberrant doctrine. God’s design for His children and His church was for arming His saints to be ready to contend for the faith in this Christ-rejecting world. “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ,” Ephesians 4:11-13. Too many of us believe that this responsibility is simply for a church pastor or some other person designated for learning and knowing God’s truth. But the function of the leaders of the church was, according to the very passage we just read, to equip the saints (all saints, mind you) for the work of the ministry. The ultimate goal was a maturity that was a mingling of faith and knowledge that could grasp the fullness of Christ’s person, ministry, and sacrifice on man’s behalf.
The apostle had more to say in the passage just quoted. He goes on by inspiration of the Holy Spirit to write: “that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love,” Ephesians 4:14-16. If we pay attention to this portion, the apostle clearly states that God desires that we no longer be children in our understanding of the doctrines that comprise God’s church. Children are easily led by any seemingly convincing argument that comes along because they have not yet been properly taught to consider their faith; what they believe, why they believe it, and how to express this belief articulately to an unbelieving world. Peter says: “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear,” 1st Peter 3:15.
Both Paul and Peter include Christians as a whole in their admonition. It is not for pastors, elders and a special apologetic class of saints that they write these things. Christians are all commanded to grow in the faith and provide from their spiritual gifts the things they alone possess for the continued spiritual growth of Christ’s church. Christians who have capitulated to the world and chosen to embrace a shallow faith also leave themselves vulnerable to having their professed faith easily stripped, since they have no roots and cannot endure any kind of serious examination, scrutiny or persecution. Furthermore this kind of vapid Christianity retards the growth of Christ’s church, since Paul teaches that every saint is to pour their spiritual gifts in for the mutual building of the saints.
My desire for myself and my fellow saints is to wake up and shake off this morass before Christianity loses its voice in this generation. We can’t afford “average” Christians that have no working knowledge of the Bible, being cut off from the sword of the Spirit and shield of faith; pieces of God’s armor that alone fit a saint for the spiritual battle that rages for the souls of our fellow man, Ephesians 6:10-18. Genuine understanding brings with it conviction; a true knowledge of what God has done for us in Christ should empower and enable us to be lights in this world on Christ’s behalf, ambassadors in this evil world, seeking to save people from the judgment to come, 2nd Corinthians 5:20. Instead we have replaced the genuine faith with a subjective, changeable religion that evolves or devolves with every subsequent generation. This is not the unalterable word of God that comes from an unchanging God, Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 13:8; 1st Peter 1:25.
Pick up your Bible and get to know the person of God; it is the only medium God has chosen to use, and therefore it is the only medium through which one may come to know the real God and His plan of salvation for humanity. My prayer is for the saints, that we hear and believe His word, and act day by day accordingly. The church is by and large lifeless because its professed saints are not being taught, trained and armed for warfare, but pacified and entertained, and the philosophies of the world have already begun to root out the gospel from the church. Take up the sword of the Spirit—the word of God—and fight the spiritual darkness that has so effectively numbed us from even wanting to know the person of the Savior we claim to belong to. God bless, and all glory to Christ, my Lord and Savior forever.