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, December 20, 2006

Doctrine Needs Application

There is a quote I saw somewhere by John Calvin. In it he says "It is easy to preach 10 sermons but hard to live one." There is a lot of truth to that. Sometimes I think to myself that if I could live out half of what I preach that I'd be doing ok in my Christian walk. Oftentimes, far too often, I fall far short of the ideal. I have a picture in my mind of the kind of man, the kind of Christian, I want to be. But the reality is that I fall way short of that mental image. And it bothers me and it motivates me to press on (as the old hymn says) towards "higher ground."

But many Christians never give the quality of their lives a second thought. They go to church, carry their Bibles, give to the offering plate, and away from church, they completely live like the world around them. Then they pat themselves on the back for their spirituality. The idea that the doctrines and teachings of the Church ought to have a practical application to our daily lives is an idea that seems lost on most people.

But the fact is that we ought to be a people who are becoming more like Jesus every single day. How do we do that? By reading the Bible and applying to our personal lives the things we see written in it. If we come to a teaching and we are not living in conformity to it, then we need to change ourselves to match what we see the Bible teaching. We struggle with sin and strive for more and more holiness. And a little each day, we are shaped by God, through His word, into the image of Christ. Just because it is hard to live on sermon does not mean that we ought not to try.

You see, doctrine must have application. Let me say it again so as to be clear ... doctrine must have application. Doctrine must be lived out. Let me mention a single area of application (although the application of our Christian beliefs ought to be seen and felt in every area of our lives). But let me use this one area for illustration.

In Church, we are given the instructions of love, of "one anothering", fellowship and so on. I believe in a church where people think and speak well of one another. Where the pain of the least and lowest member of the church is the pain of all the church. Where every victory is a group celebration and every communion service binds the hearts of the people closer and closer together. I believe in a church doing the right thing for people no matter what it costs. I believe in loving someone at first sight and loving them completely and without hypocrisy. I believe in loving and restorative church discipline. I believe it is possible to see a congregation grow upward in holiness and outward to the world through solid biblical exegetical preaching. I believe it can be done. Because, if we cannot live out our Christian beliefs among our brothers and sisters in the Lord (who are friendly to our cause of holiness) how can we ever succeed in living them in the world which is hostile to us?

It has been said rightly, that doctrine without application is dead orthodoxy. And application without doctrine is simply fanaticism. Truth is in the balance. Doctrine and application together. Like two sides of a coin, you cannot have one without the other. If you do, you have a warped thing indeed. But together, you can have a thing of value and beauty ... Christianity as it was meant to be ... right beliefs lived out every day. And that is what we are after.

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