A Faith That Doesn’t Change Your Life, Doesn’t Change Your Soul

God’s Word is a completely sufficient guide, indeed a perfect guide, for our daily walk. When we repent and ask Jesus to forgive us, we should not think that all the Christian life requires is to replace a few immoral behaviors with moral ones. There is no teaching in the Bible that even remotely resembles the idea that we can profess to be a member of God’s family and keep one foot in Christ’s Kingdom and the other foot in the world. While a person may not think that living according to his wisdom is keeping a foot in the world, that is nevertheless exactly what he is doing. Why else would Jesus command us to love Him with our “whole heart, soul, and mind”? cf Matthew 22:37

During the next few weeks we will review occasions in which God worked throughout history to deliver the members of His family from “people problems, pious priorities, personal issues, precarious places, and poisonous perspectives.” Unless you are a new Christian, many of these episodes will ring a familiar bell. Unfortunately, many fellow Christians have lost sight of them, which has resulted in our trusting more in ourselves, and our resources than in God and His resources.

Isn’t this the way we’re supposed to be living?

When you compare your lifestyle to that of your non-Christian neighbors, how different is it? If you were discussing a particular issue in your community, would someone say, “I knew Buddy would present an alternative solution, because he is a Christian,” or would no one know that you are a Christian because your daily lifestyle so closely resembles that of the non-Christians who are taking part in the discussion?

The “hellfire and brimstone” sermons have all but disappeared from American pulpits, as churches want to be more “seeker-oriented,” and not offend someone’s feelings. This is neither to suggest that we return to a dour tone of “repent or perish,” nor is it to suggest that there aren’t some faithful pastors who are doing an excellent job of accurately presenting God’s whole counsel on how we should live. However, we should remember that it was during those times when the explicit consequences of disobeying God were taught, that America was at its greatest. The operative words in the preceding sentence are “explicit consequences of disobeying God.”

While we can praise God that there are a few pastors who are being very careful to accurately present His whole counsel, we must recognize that there is a vast difference between accurately presenting a portion of Scripture and accurately teaching a portion of Scripture. In the former case, God’s Word is accurately presented, but in the latter case, His Word is not only accurately presented, but the positive consequences (for obeying it) and negative consequences (for disobeying it) are also made clear. In addition, the pastor carefully explains how to incorporate the truths of the message into the learners’ lifestyles. This does not necessarily mean that pastors should pound on the pulpit as my hero John Knox did in ancient Scotland, but it does mean that God’s will for how we should work, play, raise our children, self-govern ourselves, and worship Him should be made crystal clear.

Consider, for example, the kind of lifestyle a professing Christian could be expected to have who hasn’t had the opportunity to sit under such explicit biblical teaching: First, he would probably go with the flow of daily living, being pulled toward one religious fad, then another. Instead of thinking about how he can help bring about the crystal clear future God wants 3 by conforming his lifestyle to God’s inerrant counsel, he considers the future as something that is fuzzy and far off, not as something that is up close and personal.

This Needs to Change!

Second, his lifestyle would probably reflect a Little Picture view of life that is confined to his will, because he is unable to connect his everyday behaviors to God’s Big Picture view of how he should interact with non-Christians.

This Needs to Change!

Third, professing to be a Christian amounts to little more than identifying which religious clan (denomination) he belongs to, and since it’s a “religion,” he rarely connects its ethics to his “real life” daily decision-making.

This Needs to Change!

Fourth, whenever he feels the need to live-out his religion, he does so with a group of fellow Christians. For example, he participates in a short-term mission trip to build a school, or he takes part in aiding local storm victims. Rarely does he relate his individual behavior to biblical ethics. For the most part, the Christian life takes part in the church, or in a church-sponsored activity that reflects God’s will, while the remainder of his life is reserved for individual activities that reflect his will.

This Needs to Change!

Matthew 6.10

Buddy Hanson is President of the Christian Policy Network, Director of the Christian Worldview Resources Center and has written several books on the necessity of applying one’s faith to everyday situations, circumstances and decision-making. Mr. Hanson also sits on the Advisory Board of the New Geneva Christian Leadership Academy, located in Appomattox, Virginia. bhanson@graceandlaw.com 205.454.1442 http://www.graceandlaw.com


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