Ministerial Meanderings

God centered theology in a man centered world.

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Location: Springfield, Missouri, United States

I was born in Washington D.C. and raised in Laurel, Maryland. I served in the United States Air Force for 20 years then retired. Then God led me to become a pastor. I was converted to Christ in the summer of 1966. I enjoy the company of my wife, children and grandchildren. I live with my three cats Hobbs, Taz, and Chloe.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

An Unstoppable Witness

Christianity, and especially the born again evangelical kind of Christianity that is common in North America, is suffering from some sort of thinking disorder. It is a kind of cognitive disconnect that separates holy belief from holy living. I was reminded of this recently while listening to a sermon delivered by Southern Baptist missionary Paul Washer. Speaking to a group of teens he asked "If you say you're a Christian, but living a lifestyle of sin and debauchery, what gives you the right to think you are genuinely a Christian?" It is a good question and it is worthy of a lot of reflection in today's church.

I have always been taught that right belief leads to right living. Orthodoxy leads to orthopraxis. So, we argued, doctrine matters. It was important what you believed. If you believe a lie, you will live a lie. If your doctrine is off somewhere, it will be reflected in your life. So, as a Protestant, an Evangelical, a Baptist, and a reformed believer, I valued the truth. Correct doctrine was vital. I still believe that is true. But there is one thing more to remember...

In today's modern churches, I speak here mainly of the fundamentalist, evangelical, and especially Baptist types, we have come to believe that getting people to make a decision for Jesus is everything. This has become so important to us that one pastor friend of mine quipped once "Let's go out and win some to Jesus, then let's go win some more." The matters of true conversion and discipleship were not seen to be as important as the matter of the "decision for Jesus."

Now, I am not against sharing the gospel with lost people. I have been the Director of Evangelism in two different Baptist associations. I love seeing people come to Christ. But there is an important and vital matter to remember. Our mandate from Jesus himself is not to make converts but to make disciples ! Belief, if it not applied to your life, is nothing! Doctrine without application is dead orthodoxy. (Conversely, application without doctrine is fanaticism). As James correctly says, "Faith, if it has not works, is dead." We seek people with a living faith. A faith that both believes and lives.

The need of our day is for true disciples of Jesus. The churches are filled with people who profess faith in Christ while living daily in their pet sins. Indeed, our churches are bloated with numbers of professing believers who do not bother to appear in church even once a year! As I recently candidated for a church to pastor, I remember seeing the numbers on one church that claimed to have nearly 1200 on the membership roll, yet had less than 100 in average Sunday morning worship attendance. Where is the heart for the Lord Jesus Christ?

Jesus told the parable of the pearl of great price. The pearl was of such value that the landowner was willing to give up everything he had to possess it. The pearl of great price is Jesus! But where do we find those who are willing to give up all to possess him? They seem few and far between. Charles Spurgeon, in a sermon, once asked "Here is the day for the man, but where is the man for the day?" Where are those true disciples of Jesus to be found?

My friends, we live in a time of cheap grace and noncommittal Christianity. Everyone wants to be a Christian if it is not inconvenient for them. But the need of the day is for those who believe right and live what they believe. The need of the day is for those who hold Jesus as their first love, who will possess him at any price. Because the one witness that the devil cannot foil is a person who holds to the truth of the Holy Scriptures and lives a holy life both publically and privately. When orthodoxy and orthopraxis are joined in the same person, you will find a bright light shining before men. The Bible says "This is the day of salvation..." If you have not done so before, let this be the day you settle the issue between you and God. If Jesus is your savior and the Lord is your God ... then let Him be your God. Serve Him holding nothing back, with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength. Anything less is hypocrisy.

Find the place where lovers of truth are living holy lives and you will find the power of God moving in that place. May it ever be found wherever the Name of Jesus is known.

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