Skip to comments.The Scandal of the Evangelical ConscienceWhy don't Christians live what they preach?
Posted on 01/07/2005 10:05:03 PM PST by AreaMan
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Once upon a time there was a great religion that over the centuries had spread all over the world. But in those lands where it had existed for the longest time, its adherents slowly grew complacent, lukewarm, and skeptical. Indeed, many of the leaders of its oldest groups even publicly rejected some of the religion's most basic beliefs.
In response, a renewal movement emerged, passionately championing the historic claims of the old religion and eagerly inviting unbelievers everywhere to embrace the ancient faith. Rejecting the skepticism of leaders who no longer believed in a God who works miracles, members of the renewal movement vigorously argued that their God not only had performed miraculous deeds in the past but still miraculously transforms all who believe. Indeed, a radical, miraculous "new birth" that began a lifetime of sweeping moral renewal and transformation was at the center of their preaching. Over time, the renewal movement flourished to the point of becoming one of the most influential wings of the whole religion.
Not surprisingly, the movement's numbers translated into political influence. And the renewal movement was so confident of its beliefs and claims that it persuaded the nation's top political leader to have the government work more closely with religious social service organizations to solve the nation's horrendous social problems. Members of the renewal movement knew that miraculous moral transformation of character frequently happened when broken persons embraced the great religion. They also lobbied politicians to strengthen the traditional definition of marriage because their ancient texts taught that a lifelong covenant between a man and a woman was at the center of the Creator's design for the family.
Then the pollsters started conducting scientific polls of the general population. In spite of the renewal movement's proud claims to miraculous transformation, the polls showed that members of the movement divorced their spouses just as often as their secular neighbors. They beat their wives as often as their neighbors. They were almost as materialistic and even more racist than their pagan friends. The hard-core skeptics smiled in cynical amusement at this blatant hypocrisy. The general population was puzzled and disgusted. Many of the renewal movement's leaders simply stepped up the tempo of their now enormously successful, highly sophisticated promotional programs. Others wept.
This, alas, is roughly the situation of Western or at least American evangelicalism today.
Scandalous behavior is rapidly destroying American Christianity. By their daily activity, most "Christians" regularly commit treason. With their mouths they claim that Jesus is Lord, but with their actions they demonstrate allegiance to money, sex, and self-fulfillment.
The findings in numerous national polls conducted by highly respected pollsters like The Gallup Organization and The Barna Group are simply shocking. "Gallup and Barna," laments evangelical theologian Michael Horton, "hand us survey after survey demonstrating that evangelical Christians are as likely to embrace lifestyles every bit as hedonistic, materialistic, self-centered, and sexually immoral as the world in general."1 Divorce is more common among "born-again" Christians than in the general American population. Only 6 percent of evangelicals tithe. White evangelicals are the most likely people to object to neighbors of another race. Josh McDowell has pointed out that the sexual promiscuity of evangelical youth is only a little less outrageous than that of their nonevangelical peers.
Alan Wolfe, famous contemporary scholar and director of the Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life, has just published a penetrating study of American religious life. Evangelicals figure prominently in his book. His evaluation? Today's evangelicalism, Wolfe says, exhibits "so strong a desire to copy the culture of hotel chains and popular music that it loses what religious distinctiveness it once had."2 Wolfe argues, "The truth is there is increasingly little difference between an essentially secular activity like the popular entertainment industry and the bring-'em-in-at-any-cost efforts of evangelical megachurches."3
It is not surprising that George Barna concludes, "Every day, the church is becoming more like the world it allegedly seeks to change."4 We have very little time, he believes, to reverse these trends. African Christian and famous missions scholar Professor Lamin Sanneh told Christianity Today recently that "the cultural captivity of Christianity in the West is nearly complete, and with the religion tamed, it is open season on the West's Christian heritage. I worry about a West without a moral center facing a politically resurgent Islam."5
Our first concern, of course, must be internal integrity, not external danger. What a tragedy for evangelicals to declare proudly that personal conversion and new birth in Christ are at the center of their faith and then to defy biblical moral standards by living almost as sinfully as their pagan neighbors.
Graham Cyster, a Christian whom I know from South Africa, recently told me a painful story about a personal experience two decades ago when he was struggling against apartheid as a young South African evangelical. One night, he was smuggled into an underground Communist cell of young people fighting apartheid. "Tell us about the gospel of Jesus Christ," they asked, half hoping for an alternative to the violent communist strategy they were embracing.
Graham gave a clear, powerful presentation of the gospel, showing how personal faith in Christ wonderfully transforms persons and creates one new body of believers where there is neither Jew nor Greek, male nor female, rich nor poor, black nor white. The youth were fascinated. One seventeen-year-old exclaimed, "That is wonderful! Show me where I can see that happening." Graham's face fell as he sadly responded that he could not think of anywhere South African Christians were truly living out the message of the gospel. "Then the whole thing is a piece of sh," the youth angrily retorted. Within a month he left the country to join the armed struggle against apartheidand eventually giving his life for his beliefs.
The young man was right. If Christians do not live what they preach, the whole thing is a farce. "American Christianity has largely failed since the middle of the twentieth century," Barna concludes, "because Jesus' modern-day disciples do not act like Jesus."6 This scandalous behavior mocks Christ, undermines evangelism, and destroys Christian credibility.
If vital Christian faith is to survive, we must understand the depth of the crisis, discover why it has happened, and develop obedient, faithful correctives. My prayer is that just as Mark Noll's book The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind did much to strengthen evangelical thinking, so a forthright acknowledgment of this sorry state of affairs will renew evangelical resolve to live what we preach.
Whether the issue is divorce, materialism, sexual promiscuity, racism, physical abuse in marriage, or neglect of a biblical worldview, the polling data point to widespread, blatant disobedience of clear biblical moral demands on the part of people who allegedly are evangelical, born-again Christians. The statistics are devastating.
In a 1999 national survey, George Barna found that the percentage of born-again Christians who had experienced divorce was slightly higher (26 percent) than that of non-Christians (22 percent).7 In Barna's polls since the mid-1990s, that number has remained about the same.8 In August 2001, a new poll found that the divorce rate was about the same for born-again Christians and the population as a whole; 33 percent of all born-again Christians had been divorced compared with 34 percent of non-born-again Americansa statistically insignificant difference. Barna also found in one study that 90 percent of all divorced born-again folk divorced after they accepted Christ.9
Barna makes a distinction between born-again Christians and evangelicals. Barna classifies as born-again all who say "they have made a personal commitment to Jesus Christ that is still important in their life today" and who also indicate that they "believe that when they die they will go to heaven because they have confessed their sins and accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior."10 In Barna's polls anywhere from 35 to 43 percent of the total U.S. population meet these criteria for being born-again.
Barna limits the term "evangelical" to a much smaller groupjust 7 to 8 percent of the total U.S. population. In addition to meeting the criteria for being born-again, evangelicals must agree with several other things such as the following: Jesus lived a sinless life; eternal salvation is only through grace, not works; Christians have a personal responsibility to evangelize non-Christians; Satan exists. Obviously this definition identifies a much more theologically biblical, orthodox group of Christians.
What is the divorce rate among evangelicals? According to a 1999 poll by Barna, exactly the same as the national average! According to that poll, 25 percent of evangelicalsjust like 25 percent of the total populationhave gone through a divorce.11 Does it make no difference to evangelicals that their Lord and Savior explicitly, clearly, repeatedly condemned divorce?
"Have you not read that the one who made them at the beginning 'made them male and female,' and said, 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate." Matthew 19:46 (NRSV)
Professor Brad Wilcox is a Princeton-trained, Christian sociologist who specializes in family issues. Wilcox has studied two sets of national data: The General Social Survey and The National Survey of Families and Households. The result? "Compared with the rest of the population, conservative Protestants are more likely to divorce." He also points out the divorce rates are higher in the southern U.S., where conservative Protestants make up a higher percentage of the population than elsewhere in the country.12
A story in the New York Times in 2001 underlined Wilcox's findings about the unusually high divorce rates in the South. In many parts of the Bible Belt, the divorce rate was discovered to be "roughly 50 percent above the national average" (italics mine).13 Governor Frank Keating of Oklahoma pointed out the irony that these unusually high divorce rates exist in his state, where 70 percent of the people go to church once a week or more. "These divorce rates," Gov. Keating concluded, "are a scalding indictment of what isn't being said behind the pulpit."
Materialism and the Poor
John and Sylvia Ronsvalle have been carefully analyzing the giving patterns of American Christians for well over a decade. Their annual The State of Christian Giving is the most accurate report for learning how much Christians in the richest nation in human history actually give. In their most recent edition, they provide detailed information about per-member giving patterns of U.S. church members from 1968 to 2001. Over those thirty-plus years, of course, the average income of U.S. Christians has increased enormously. But that did not carry over into their giving. The report showed that the richer we become, the less we give in proportion to our incomes.
In 1968, the average church member gave 3.1 percent of their incomeless than a third of a tithe. That figure dropped every year through 1990 and then recovered slightly to 2.66 percentabout one quarter of a tithe.14
Even more interesting is what has happened to evangelical giving. The Ronsvalles compare the giving in seven typical mainline denominations (affiliated with the National Council of Churches) with the giving in eight evangelical denominations (with membership in the National Association of Evangelicals). In 1968 the eight evangelical denominations gave considerably more than the seven mainline denominations. While the mainline denominational members gave 3.3 percent of their income, evangelicals gave 6.15 percent. While this is significantly more, the evangelicals on average still gave less than two-thirds of a tithe. By 1985 mainline folk had dropped their giving to 2.85 percent of their income and evangelicals to 4.74 percent. By 2001, mainline members had recovered slightly to 3.17 percent, but evangelical giving kept dropping and was at a mere 4.27 percent.15
As we got richer and richer, evangelicals chose to spend more and more on themselves and give a smaller and smaller percentage to the church. Today, on average, evangelicals in the U.S. give about two-fifths of a tithe.
In 2002, Barna discovered that only 6 percent of born-again adults titheda 50 percent decline from 2000, when 12 percent did. And in 2002, just 9 percent of Barna's narrow class of evangelicals tithed.16
One can see a related problem in another area. Examine the public agenda of prominent evangelical political movements and coalitions. Virtually never does justice for the poor appear as an area of significant concern and effort.
American Christians live in the richest nation on earth and enjoy an average household income of $42,409.17 The World Bank reports that 1.2 billion of the world's poorest people try to survive on just one dollar a day. At least one billion people have never heard the gospel. The Ronsvalles point out that if American Christians just tithed, they would have another $143 billion available to empower the poor and spread the gospel.18 Studies by the United Nations suggest that just an additional $70$80 billion a year would be enough to provide access to essential services like basic health care and education for all the poor of the earth.19 If they did no more than tithe, American Christians would have the private dollars to foot this entire bill and still have $60$70 billion more to do evangelism around the world.
As evangelicals we claim to embrace the Bible as our final authority. One of the most common themes in the Scriptures is that God and his faithful people have a special concern for the poor. Why this blatant contradiction between belief and practice?
In the late 1970s, I attended a national conference of evangelical leaders. My small group, as I recall, included prominent persons like Carl Henry, the first editor of Christianity Today; Hudson Armerding, the president of Wheaton College; and Loren Cunningham, the founder of Youth with a Mission. Several times in our small group, different persons referred to the issue of a simple lifestyle, urging its importance. Finally, Loren Cunningham said something like the following: "Yes, I think the evangelical community is ready to live more simplyif we evangelical leaders will model it." That ended the discussion. There were no further recommendations to live more simply!
A story in the New York Times reported that, according to census data, in the 1990s the number of unmarried couples living together jumped a lot more in the Bible Belt (where a higher percentage of the total population are evangelicals) than in the nation as a whole. Nationwide, the increase was 72 percent. But in Oklahoma it was 97 percent, in Arkansas 125 percent, and in Tennessee 123 percent.20
Popular evangelical speaker Josh McDowell has been observing and speaking to evangelical youth for several decades. I remember him saying years ago that evangelical youth are only about 10 percent less likely to engage in premarital sex than nonevangelicals.
True Love Waits, a program sponsored by the Southern Baptist Convention, is one of the most famous evangelical efforts to reduce premarital sexual activity among our youth. Since 1993, about 2.4 million young people have signed a pledge to wait until marriage to engage in sexual intercourse. Are these young evangelicals keeping their pledges? In March 2004, researchers from Columbia University and Yale University reported on their findings. For seven years they studied 12 thousand teenagers who took the pledge. Sadly, they found that 88 percent of these pledgers reported having sexual intercourse before marriage; just 12 percent kept their promise. The researchers also found that the rates for having sexually transmitted diseases "were almost identical for the teenagers who took pledges and those who did not."21
Barna found from a 2001 poll that cohabitationliving with a member of the opposite sex without marriageis only a little better among born-again adults than the general public. Nationally, 33 percent of all adults have lived with a member of the opposite sex without being married. The rate is 25 percent for born-again folk.22
Professor John C. Green is an evangelical political scientist and director of the Ray C. Bliss Institute of Applied Politics at the University of Akron. Green is one of the best statisticians in his field and has studied how Americans feel about morals and ethics using several national surveys. He divides those he labels evangelicals into two categories: traditional evangelicals (who have higher church attendance, a higher view of biblical authority, etc.) and nontraditional evangelicals.23 What are their attitudes on premarital and extramarital sex? Fully 26 percent of traditional evangelicals do not think premarital sex is wrong, and 46 percent of nontraditional evangelicals say it is morally okay.24
And extramarital sex? Of traditional evangelicals, 13 percent say it is okay for married persons to have sex with someone other than one's spouse. And 19 percent of nontraditional evangelicals say adultery is morally acceptable.25 Fortunately, Green finds that evangelicals fare better than mainline Protestant and Catholic Christians on these issues, but the number of evangelicals that blatantly reject biblical sexual norms is astonishing.
What about pornography? Citing a recent survey in Leadership magazine, Steve Gallagher says, "Tragically, the percentage of Christian men involved [in pornography] is not much different that that of the unsaved."26
In 1989 George Gallup Jr. and James Castelli published the results of a survey to determine which groups in the U.S. were least and most likely to object to having black neighborssurely a good measure of racism. Catholics and nonevangelical Christians ranked least likely to object to black neighbors; 11 percent objected. Mainline Protestants came next at 16 percent. At 17 percent, Baptists and evangelicals were among the most likely groups to object to black neighbors, and 20 percent of Southern Baptists objected to black neighbors.27
It is common knowledge that during the Civil Rights movement, when mainline Protestants and Jews joined African Americans in their historic struggle for freedom and equality, evangelical leaders were almost entirely absent. Some opposed the movement; others said nothing. When Frank Gaebelein, then a coeditor of Christianity Today, not only covered Martin Luther King's March on Selma but also endorsed and joined the movement, he experienced opposition and hostility from other evangelical leaders.28 My own school, Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary, was founded in 1925 as an evangelical alternative to theological liberalism in American Baptist circles. But racism was part of our early history. We always accepted African Americans as students but refused to allow African American men to sleep overnight on campus. One African American student, who much later was elected to the seminary's board of trustees, had to sleep five miles away at Thirtieth Street Train Station. Thank God for Cuthbert Rutenber, who helped the seminary abandon its racist policies in about 1950.
More recently, evangelicals have taken several important steps to confess past racism and call for change. Coach Bill McCartney, the founder of the national evangelical men's movement called Promise Keepers, was one of the outstanding evangelical leaders in this change. McCartney went on a national speaking tour, regularly calling evangelicals to racial reconciliation. In his book Sold Out, McCartney recalls what happened. When he finished speaking, he reports, "There was no responsenothing. . . . In city after city, in church after church, it was the same storywild enthusiasm while I was being introduced, followed by a morgue-like chill as I stepped away from the microphone."29 McCartney thinks a major reason attendance dropped dramatically in Promise Keepers' stadium events was their stand on racial reconciliation.
Michael O. Emerson and Christian Smith have written a crucial book, Divided By Faith: Evangelical Religion and the Problem of Race in America, exploring ongoing racial attitudes in the evangelical world. Their conclusion? "White evangelicalism likely does more to perpetuate the racialized society than to reduce it."30 White conservative Protestants are more than twice as likely as other whites to blame lack of equality (e.g., income) between blacks and whites on a lack of black motivation rather than discrimination. Conservative Protestants are six times more likely to cite lack of motivation than unequal access to education!31
Evangelicals may have some good biblical theology about the body of Christ, where there is neither Jew nor Greek, black nor white. But if they do not work out this theology in practice, such that white evangelicals welcome black neighbors and work to end racist structures, then, as was made clear by the young South African Communist, the whole thing stinks.
To say there is a crisis of disobedience in the evangelical world today is to dangerously understate the problem. Born-again Christians divorce at about the same rate as everyone else. Self-centered materialism is seducing evangelicals and rapidly destroying our earlier, slightly more generous giving. Only 6 percent of born-again Christians tithe. Born-again Christians justify and engage in sexual promiscuity (both premarital sex and adultery) at astonishing rates. Racism and perhaps physical abuse of wives seems to be worse in evangelical circles than elsewhere. This is scandalous behavior for people who claim to be born-again by the Holy Spirit and to enjoy the very presence of the Risen Lord in their lives.
In light of the foregoing statistics, it is not surprising that born-again Christians spend seven times more hours each week in front of their televisions than they spend in Bible reading, prayer, and worship.32 Only 9 percent of born-again adults and 2 percent of born-again teenagers have a biblical worldview.33
Perhaps it is not surprising either that non-Christians have a very negative view of evangelicals. In a recent poll, Barna asked non-Christians about their attitudes toward different groups of Christians. Only 44 percent have a positive view of Christian clergy. Just 32 percent have a positive view of born-again Christians. And a mere 22 percent have a positive view of evangelicals.34
Evangelicals rightly rejected theological liberalism because it denied the miraculous. In response, we insisted that miracle was central to biblical faith at numerous points including the supernatural moral transformation of broken sinners. Now our very lifestyle as evangelicals is a ringing practical denial of the miraculous in our lives. Satan must laugh in sneerful derision. God's people can only weep.
Rays of Hope No biblical passage speaks as powerfully to our situation as the message to the church at Laodicea. Like the American church today, the Laodicean church was rich, self-confidentand lukewarm.
The city of Laodicea (in Asia Minor, now Turkey) was famous in the first century. It was a major banking center and proud of its wealth. The city was especially famous for its wool exports and a highly regarded eye salve.35 Apparently the Laodicean church shared their fellow citizens' sense of wealthy self-confidence. But knowing they were half-hearted, lukewarm Christians, the Lord said to them,
I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarmneither hot nor coldI am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, "I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing." But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.
Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. Revelation 3:1420
This passage could just as well have been written to contemporary American evangelicals. Enormously wealthy, and proud of it, we think that most things are going well in spite of our blatant disobedience. But our Lord's word to us is simple: Repent!
Evangelicals have used the image of Christ knocking at the heart's door as a symbol of our vigorous evangelistic programs. But in truth, it is we, by our behavior, who have excluded him from our hearts and lives. He stands at the doors of our hearts, begging us to welcome his total Lordship.
Weeping and repentance are the only faithful responses to the sweeping, scandalous disobedience in the evangelical world today. We have defied the Lord we claim to worship. We have disgraced his holy name by our unholy lives. Yes, we believe he is the Savior. We are Christians, not pagans. But our beliefs are not strong enough to produce righteous lifestyles. We want Jesus and mammon. Unless we repent, our Lord intends to spit us out.
Biblical repentance is more than a brief liturgical phrase or a hasty superficial tear. It is a deep, heartfelt sorrow for offending the Holy Sovereign of the universe and a strong inner resolve to embrace the conversionthe complete reversal of directionthat our forgiving Savior longs to bestow. We cannot manufacture this radical change using our own strength. But we can beg our Holy God not only to forgive but also to change us. Daily, we can pray to the Lord to transform us more and more into the very likeness of Jesus.
Anguished, persistent prayer for revival must become more central in evangelical life. It is true that for a couple of decades, there have been major prayer movements in the evangelical world. But our behavior has not become more holy. The revival tarries. Richard Lovelace has said that we cannot close "the sanctification gap" until "the same fear and trembling, the same prayer to be endued with power from on high that characterized the first apostles" becomes a part of our lives.36 Please God, may that happen.
Facing the depth of the scandal could easily provoke despair. Thank God, belief in the gospel warrants a more hopeful response. At the heart of evangelical belief is the glorious biblical truth that new birth, radical transformation, is possible at any moment. We have regularly promised even the most wretched, most broken sinners that the Lord stands ready to forgive and change them if they will only open their hearts to him. Again and again, we know from our own history, the Savior has done just that. Criminals, adulterers, and murderers have been radically transformed into new persons in Christ Jesus. That is the perennial promise of the gospel.
That is precisely the promise which we must claim for ourselves. The Savior longs to forgive even scandalously unfaithful contemporary evangelicals if we will just repent.
And pray. We need to pray mightily for a sweeping movement of revival. The history of evangelical awakenings in the last three centuries shows that again and again God has responded with powerful movements of revival in the church when God's people united in intense, sustained periods of prayer.37
The incredible promises Jesus attached to his words about prayer strengthen our hope. If we pray for revival and sanctification, the Lord of the universe pledges to hear us. Listen to his reassuring promise:
Whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. Mark 11:24
I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, "Move from here to there" and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you. Matthew 17:2021
If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. John 15:7
Does anyone doubt that our Lord longs to answer our pleas for revival? And sanctifying power?
As we pray, we need to remember an important condition that Christ attached to these promises. We must obey. John 15:7 says that Jesus will hear our prayers if we abide in him and his words abide in us. We must make every effort to embrace the righteous way of life that the New Testament commands and promises is possible.
Obedience means unconditional submission to Jesus as Lord as well as Savior. It means abandoning our one-sided, unbiblical conceptions of sin, the gospel, salvation, and conversion, and returning to the full-blown biblical understanding of these glorious truths. It means recovering the biblical reality of the church as community. It means living the truth that orthodoxy and orthopraxisright theology and right behaviorare equally important.
If we do that, I believe we dare hope and expect that a longing for holiness will sweep through our churches. Our sexual practices will reflect biblical standards much more faithfully. Joyful, lifelong fidelity will make our homes and marriages powerful signs of an attractive alternative to today's brokenness and agony. Biblical Christians will lead the way in more vigorous efforts to reduce dramatically domestic abuse, racism, materialism, and poverty.
Could that really happen? The promise of the gospel is that it can and doeswhenever people truly surrender to the biblical Christ. Fortunately, there are even some rays of hope in some of the polling data. When pollsters make careful distinctions between nominal Christians and devout believers, there is evidence that deeply committed Christians do live differently.
In 1992, George Gallup Jr. and Timothy Jones published a book called The Saints Among Us. They used a 12-question survey to identify what they called "heroic and faithful individual" Christians. Some of the questions identified people who believed in the full authority of the Bible and practiced evangelism. But others identified costly behavior: "I do things I don't want to do because I believe it is the will of God" and "I put my religious beliefs into practice in my relations with all people regardless of their backgrounds." They labeled "saints" those who agreed with every question. And they called "super-saints" those who agreed strongly with every question.38
The good news is that the "saints" lived differently. Only 42 percent of the strongly uncommitted spent "a good deal of time" helping people in need, but 73 percent of the "saints" and 85 percent of the "super-saints" did.39 Only 63 percent of the spiritually uncommitted reported that they would not object to having a neighbor of a different race. But 84 percent of the "saints" and 93 percent of the "super-saints" said they would not object.40 Interestingly, a disproportionate share of the saints were women, African Americans, and persons earning less than $25,000 per year.
Sociologist Christian Smith's study comparing the attitudes and behavior of evangelical, fundamentalist, mainline, liberal, and Catholic Christians as well as those of the "non-religious" found that over the previous two years, evangelicals were more than three times more likely to have given "a lot" of money to help the poor and the needy than the non-religious.41 In fact, evangelicals scored higher than any other Christian group. Of all evangelicals, 29 percent gave a lot. But only 23 percent of fundamentalists, 22 percent of mainline churches, 25 percent of liberals, 22 percent of Catholics, and 9 percent of the non-religious gave a lot. Even so, only 29 percent of the evangelicals gave a lot. That means 71 percent of evangelicals did not!
A Pew Center poll in 2001 supported Smith's findings. In this survey, those with a high religious commitment were a little more than three times as likely as those with a low religious commitmentto have volunteered to help poor, sick, and elderly people in the last month (35 percent vs. 11 percent).42 But again only one third (35 percent) of the highly religiously committed had volunteered. Sixty-five percent had not. Another question in the same poll found that those who were "heavily involved in activities at their church or house of worship" were almost four times more likely to volunteer to help the poor, sick, and homeless in settings outside church than were those of low religious commitment (44 percent vs. 12 percent).43
George Barna has developed a set of criteria to identify people with a "biblical worldview." These people believe that "the Bible is the moral standard" and also think that "absolute moral truths exist and are conveyed through the Bible." In addition, they agree with all six of the following additional beliefs: God is the all-knowing, all-powerful Creator who still rules the universe; Jesus Christ lived a sinless life; Satan is a real, living entity; salvation is a free gift, not something we can earn; every Christian has a personal responsibility to evangelize; and the Bible is totally accurate in all it teaches.
Barna's criteria for identifying people with a biblical worldview are not identical to his criteria for identifying evangelicals. Barna's "born-again" category is much broader; about 40 percent of the total population are born-again, but only 78 percent are evangelicals. Using his definition of those with a biblical worldview, Barna has discovered that only 9 percent of all born-again adults have a biblical worldview and only 2 percent of born-again teenagers.44 That is the bad news.
The good news is that the small circle of people with a biblical worldview demonstrate genuinely different behavior. They are nine times more likely than all the others to avoid "adult-only" material on the Internet. They are four times more likely than other Christians to boycott objectionable companies and products and twice as likely to choose intentionally not to watch a movie specifically because of its bad content. They are three times more likely than other adults not to use tobacco products and twice as likely to volunteer time to help needy people.45 Forty-nine percent of all born-again Christians with a biblical worldview have volunteered more than an hour in the previous week to an organization serving the poor, whereas only 29 percent of born-again Christians without a biblical worldview and only 22 percent of non-born-again Christians had done so.46
In a 2000 poll Barna discovered that evangelicals are five times less likely than adults generally to report that their "career comes first."47 And there is accumulating evidence that theologically conservative Protestant men who attend church regularly have lower rates of domestic abuse than others.48
Not surprisingly, this better behavior is closely correlated with higher religious activity. Those with a biblical worldview are almost twice as likely as other Christians to read the Bible each week.49 Nationwide, only 19 percent of adults attend Sunday school each week, but 33 percent of all born-again adults do. And the figure jumps to 60 percent for evangelicals.50 While only 17 percent of all adults attend a small group for prayer and Bible study each week, 30 percent of born-again Christians do. And 55 percent of all evangelicals do.51
Other pollsters have discovered a similar correlation between evangelical faith and religious activity. Christian Smith found that evangelicals were much more likely to attend church each week or share the gospel than other Christians.52 The same pattern emerged in a study in 2001 by the Pew Research Center.53
These statistics offer some substantial hope. People with a biblical worldview, and this category largely overlaps with that of evangelical, do exhibit better moral behavior at several points. We cannot be satisfied with studies that show that only 29 percent of all evangelicals gave a lot to help the poor and needy. But that is at least a lot better than the statistics for the non-religious, where only 9 percent do a lot to help the poor. When we can distinguish nominal Christians from deeply committed, theologically orthodox Christians, it is clear that genuine Christianity does lead to better behavior, at least in some areas.
Barna's findings on the different behavior of Christians with a biblical worldview underline the importance of theology. Biblical orthodoxy does matter. One important way to end the scandal of contemporary Christian behavior is to work and pray fervently for the growth of orthodox theological belief in our churches.
Barna reports one final finding that offers additional hope. He discovered that even though 91 percent of all born-again Christians lacked a biblical worldview, they were nonetheless open, even desirous, of spiritual growth. Eighty percent of all born-again Christians said that having a "deep, personal commitment to the Christian faith is a top priority for their future."54 And nine out of ten Christians of every stripe said that if their churches specified things they should personally do to grow spiritually, they would at least listen to the advice and follow most of the recommendations.55 That suggests a lot of openness to more solid biblical discipling.
Things are not quite as hopeless as they first appeared. Biblical faith makes a substantial (though not enough) difference in the lives of deeply committed Christians. Most nominal Christians seem open to spiritual growth.
More importantly, the gospel is true! The carpenter from Nazareth burst from the tomb and now reigns as the Lord of the universe. His promise to transform into his very own likeness all who truly believe in him still stands. The Holy Spirit is still alive and powerful today, radically remaking broken people who unconditionally open their hearts and lives to his mighty presence.
At any time in history, no matter how bad the current mess, no matter how unfaithful the contemporary church, God stands ready to keep his promises. God is eager to do the same mighty deeds today that he has done in the past. All we must do is trust and obey.
The Lord we claim to love and worship stands at the door and knocks. He longs to be truly invited in. We cannot invite only half of him. But if today we dare to embrace and surrender to the full biblical Christ, he will perform mighty deeds that transcend what we dare ask or imagine. He will turn our weeping into joy. He will end the scandal of blatant disobedience in the people who call on his name.
Ronald J. Sider is professor of theology, holistic ministry, and public policy and director of the Sider Center on Ministry and Public Policy at Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is also president of Evangelicals for Social Action. This article is excerpted from his book The Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience (Baker). Copyright 2004 by Ronald J. Sider. Used by permission of Baker Books.
1. Michael Horton, "Beyond Culture Wars," Modern Reformation (May-June 1993), p. 3.
2. Alan Wolfe, The Transformation of American Religion (Free Press, 2003), p. 257.
3. Ibid., p. 212.
4. Tim Stafford, "The Third Coming of George Barna," Christianity Today, August 8, 2002, p. 34.
5. Christianity Today, October 2003, p. 112.
6. George Barna, Think Like Jesus (Integrity, 2003), p. 40.
7. George Barna, "Family," 2000. Available from Barna Research Online, http://216.87.179/cgi-bin/pagecategory.asp?categoryid=20. See also George Barna and Mark Hatch, Boiling Point: It Only Takes One Degree (Regal, 2001), p. 42.
8. "The statistic has been quite consistent since the mid-90's." Barna and Hatch, Boiling Point, p. 42n29.
9. The Barna Group, The Barna Update, "Born Again Adults Less Likely to Co-Habit, Just As Likely to Divorce," August 6, 2001, http://www.barna.org/FlexPage.aspx?Page=BarnaUpdate&BarnaUpdateID=95.
10. The Barna Group, The Barna Update, "Annual Study Reveals America is Spiritually Stagnant," March 5, 2001, http://www.barna.org/FlexPage.aspx?Page=BarnaUpdate&BarnaUpdateID=84.
11. The Barna Group, Evangelical Christians, http://www.barna.org.
12. W. Bradford Wilcox, "Conservative Protestants and the Family," in A Public Faith: Evangelicals and Civic Engagment, ed. Michael Cromartie (Rowman and Littlefield, 2003), p. 63.
13. New York Times, May 21, 2001, A14.
14. John L. and Sylvia Ronsvalle, The State of Church Giving Through 2001 (Empty Tomb, 2003), p. 12.
15. Ibid., p. 25.
16. The Barna Group, "Stewardship," http://www.barna.org/FlexPage.aspx?Page=Topic&TopicID=36.
17. Carmen DeNavas-Walt, Robert Cleveland, and Bruce H. Webster Jr., U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Reports, P60-221, Income in the United States: 2002, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC, 2003, available as PDF at http://www.census.gov/prod/2003pubs/p60-221.pdf.
18. Ronsvalle, State of Church Giving, p. 52.
19. Carol Bellamy, The State of the World's Children 2001 (UNICEF, 2003), p. 81.
20. New York Times, May 21, 2001, A14.
21. Lawrence K. Altman, "Study Finds That Teenage Virginity Pledges Are Rarely Kept," New York Times, March 10, 2004, A20.
22. The Barna Group, The Barna Update, "Born Again Adults Less Likely to Co-Habit, Just As Likely to Divorce," August 6, 2001, http://www.barna.org/FlexPage.aspx?Page=BarnaUpdate&BarnaUpdateID=95.
23. John C. Green, "Religion and Politics in the 1990s: Confrontations and Coalitions," in Religion and American Politics: The 2000 Election in Context, ed. Mark Silk (Center for the Study of Religion in Public Life, Trinity College, Hartford, 2000), p. 21, available as PDF at http://www.trincoll.edu/depts/csrpl/religame.pdf.
24. Ibid., p. 26.
26. Steve Gallagher, "Devastated by Internet Porn," Pure Life Ministries, December 15, 2000, http://www.purelifeministries.org/mensarticle1.htm.
27. George Gallup Jr. and James Castelli, The People's Religion (Macmillan, 1989), p. 188.
28. Personal conversation with Frank Gaebelein's daughter.
29. Bill McCartney with David Halbrook, Sold Out: Becoming Man Enough to Make a Difference (Word, 1997).
30. Michael O. Emerson and Christian Smith, Divided By Faith: Evangelical Religion and the Problem of Race in America (Oxford Univ. Press, 2000), p. 170.
31. Michael Emerson, "Faith That Separates: Evangelicals and Black-White Race Relations," in A Public Faith (see note 6), p. 196.
32. Barna and Hatch, Boiling Point, p. 140.
33. Barna, Think Like Jesus, p. 23.
34. See Sally Morgenthaler's foreword to Jonny Baker, Doug Gay, and Jenny Brown, Alternative Worship: Resources from and for the Emerging Church (Baker, 2004).
35. See Craig S. Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament (InterVarsity, 1993), p. 775.
36. Richard F. Lovelace, Dynamics of Spiritual Renewal (InterVarsity, 1979), p. 237.
37. See, for example, J. Edwin Orr, The Eager Feet: Evangelical Awakenings, 17901830 (Moody, 1975), especially pp. 191200.
38. George H. Gallup Jr. and Timothy Jones, The Saints Among Us (Harrisburg: Morehouse, 1992).
39. Ibid., pp. 6364.
40. Ibid., p. 41.
41. Christian Smith, American Evangelicalism: Embattled and Thriving (Univ. of Chicago Press, 1998), pp. 4142.
42. Pew Research Center, American Views on Religion, Politics and Public Policy (2001), pp. 23; see also somewhat parallel results in Robert Wuthnow, Acts of Compassion: Caring for Others and Helping Ourselves (Princeton Univ. Press, 1991), p. 51.
43. Pew Research Center, American Views on Religion, Politics and Public Policy (2001), part IV, p. 5.
44. Barna, Think Like Jesus, p. 23.
45. Ibid., p. 24.
46. Ibid., p. 28.
47. The research archive on "Evangelical Christians" at Here Barna reports that evangelicals are just as likely as the general population to be divorced. But in his 2002 report (State of the Church 2002, p. 94), Barna reported that evangelicals are "less likely to have experienced a divorce than any other of the faith segments." It is not clear how these different data fit together.
48. See W. Bradford Wilcox, Soft Patriarchs, New Men: How Christianity Shapes Fathers and Husbands (Univ. of Chicago Press, 2004).
49. Barna, State of the Church 2002, p. 25.
50. George Barna, "Ministry Involvement," Online, 2001 (accessed March 11, 2001).
51. George Barna, Faith Commitment Online, Barna Research Group, 2001 (accessed March 11, 2001).
52. Smith, American Evangelicalism, pp. 34, 40.
53. The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, American Views on Religion, Politics and Public Policy (Pew Research Center, 2001), part IV.
54. George Barna, Growing True Disciples (Issachar Resources, 2000), p. 32.
55. Ibid., p. 41. Copyright © 2005 by the author or Christianity Today International/Books & Culture magazine. Click here for reprint information on Books & Culture. January/February 2005, Vol. 11, No. 1, Page 8
My brother-in-law is a good example of this. He is supposedly such a good Christian (goes to church twice a week and mouths the right stuff), but he is one of the most materialistic people I have ever met. I don't think his family does any charitable giving.
In answer to your inquiry, I consider that the chief dangers which confront the coming century will be religion without the Holy Ghost, Christianity without Christ, forgiveness without repentance, salvation without regeneration, politics without God, and heaven without hell.
Consider where American Christians are in regards to this
What has the Fundamentalist church and Pentecostal churches done they have gone from being the little runned down church on every corners in all the worst neighborhoods to building huge inter-city cathederals whereas 50 years ago most of these preachers were dirt poor and had to mwork a side trade to support themselves all these preachers have cast that off and now have huge salaries they drive loaded lincolns and have build palaces for their God.
What has also been done is that they have replaced the Gospel of humilty and salvation of the blood of christ preached a Gospel of being wealthy and praying to get beleiving that by wealth and power that the work of God is done.
Mark my words there are those who shall read this post that shall live to see all of this stripped away and that all those who have put their faith in their wealth, their church, and their denomination, shall fall away when what they have put ehir faith in are removed.
We read the testimonies of those that were leaders in the faith 100 and 200 years ago. Charles Finny, DL Moody, Dr. John Graham Lake, John and Charles Wesley, men of great fati men with great testimonies of the workings of God in their lives and how they moved nations to repentance and people into transformed vibrant lives. And we look to the hollow christianity that this preached today and the hollow followers of the faith. They are rich in the teaching and traditions of men but poor in spirit. They venerate thir dead but do not follow their teachings and their examples and instead revelin the reinvention and corruption of other mens teachings.
As the state of the church is so is the nation.
The state of the church is more than a few enlightened isloated belviers -- Christ said it is the whole lump and the whole lump has been infected with worldliness and darkness. We need to open out eyes and quit the panty waist whining that anything bad said about beleivers is false and that things have never been better and that revival is just around the corner.
Could it be that Churches have become big business.
One of the oldest Christian writeings is THE DIDACHE, or Teaching of the Twelve Apostles,
11:4 Let every apostle who cometh unto you be received as the Lord.
11:5 He will remain one day, and if it be necessary, a second; but if he remain three days, he is a false prophet.
11:6 And let the apostle when departing take nothing but bread until he arrive at his resting-place; but if he ask for money, he is a false prophet.
Bump for a later read
You forgot 1 Cor 7:15, "But if the unbeliever leaves, let him do so. A believing man or woman is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace."
Otherwise, it would be akin to saying that since the Bible doesn't specifically say that oral sex is wrong, that it otherwise becomes okay.
At the very least, someone who marries the divorced person commits adultery.
If your heart is right with Christ, you will hold out for their reconciliation anyway and for them to come to Christ. Especially if there are children involved.
Anything less in selfishness.
Another whacko idea was to send in "peace teams" that would locate themselves between 2 sides in a war ... of course, modern artillery is so accurate and the front lines so far apart that the peace teams would just be in a place offering the best view of the fireworks.
He would be what I call biblically conservative but politically liberal. Apart from morality, abortion, porn, gay marriage, drugs (in conflict with rock-the-vote Deanie chardonnays), I can't think of any other issue he would part with the Democratic establishment.
Of course this is the mainstream Christian thought in East Asia and many would argue political conservatism (free market, defence hawks) is not compatible with conservative/biblical Christianity i.e. you must be a religious liberal if you are politically conservative, according to these brothers.
Personally I find it hard to spend $50 on Halo 2 for myself when the same amount could aid an organizations like Samaritan's Purse or Focus on the Family. But that's just me. I can't say that Christians who spend their money on boats and cars and "toys" are necessarily bad.
An excellent article. Thank you for posting it. A deist family member of mine was dating a devout Christian lady.
I have always taken issue with modern evangelism, and her attempts equalled "go to church and bible study or I'll dump you." It wasn't received well since she acted with more immorality than he. She preached and preached to him, but smoked pot, drank whiskey and had a tongue that was so sharp it emasculated him.
"It is percisely because the Church shirked its duties to be a light unto all men, that it has turned away from its primary duty of every beleiver sharing their testimony of Christ to those around them that thses evils have come upon the nation."
I have found that sharing the gospel doesn't work well, when done fanatically. Planting the seed does, because Christ will water that seed Himself. The timing is the key, this, from an atheist convert. There's one guy around here who runs around screaming "Praise the Lord!" How many people turn to God because of this? Others tell unbeleivers they are going to hell unless they repent.
The people who convinced me demonstrated Christian living and charity toward others. One who is divorced, with kids who are drug addicts and who are hypocritical shouldn't evangelize.
Although this may be obvious, I left out two words. That sentence should have read:
To say that those who have sinned in more apparent ways cannot evangelize strongly curbs the number of those who can otherwise help.
Mark Chapter 16:15 - 15And Jesus said unto the disciples, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. 16He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. 17And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; 18They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. 19So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God. 20And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.
When I read this I read it as a command -- and it has that bad preach word in it, see i'm kind of soft headed and I don't quite read here go ye into all the world and demonstrate Christian living and charity toward others." I know other verses that command us to live as such but that is not defined as preaching or being witnesses."
And you see this preaching here seems to be accompanied by a lot of "Bad" fanantical stuff as well speaking in tongues (That's breaking rules of eitquette) healing the sick casting out devils (That's certainly not a quiet sport)
And I kind of gather in verse 20 that the disciples were dumb literalists as well and they went out doing what Christ said and for some dumb reason God was with them.
So maybe this was all a fluke I mean maybe this is all wrong and we need a better Gospel?
Luke 4:18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,
Matthew 4:23 And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people.
See but it gets worse becuse it seems that Jesus has this thing about confessing his name before men. And somehow I get confused all the time into thinking that that preaching and being witinesses and confessing before men is all the same thing.
Matthew 10:31-33 Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows. Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.
I also get confussed here because denying or one's silence seems to be not confessing. And Jesus says they're not beleivers. But maybe this is all wrong too!
Matthew 10:31-33 Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows. Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.
Opps another bad verse . . .
Acts 24:14 But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets:
So I confess that after the way many fundamentalists and evangelicals call heresy, so worship I God. And I say praise God and I sometimes I shout.
Romans 15:9 And that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy; as it is written, For this cause I will confess to thee among the Gentiles, and sing unto thy name.
Surely Paul isn't suggesting tha he sings the name of God to the unsaved. Confessing would be bad enough.
Phlippians 2:10-12 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
May be we should kneel before God too, every tongue confess -- not only the preachers? Paul says the phillipians would do this not only in his presence but when he wa away and he says something about this being obeying and while were at it work out our own salvation with fear and trembling.
Could it be that I just beleive in a different Gospel that doesn't care or require any of these kind of hookey Bible things?
2 corinthians 11:2-3 For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.
See there are lost of pastors and churches tkaht pick and choose what they want to beleive but they are free to pick and choose and build there own Gospel. That was a sin unto death at Paul's time and it still is.
Galatians 1:6-9 I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.
How do we know what we beleive is true? It is in the Bible as opposed to mentioned Generally the test is not what you beleive but the long list of scriptures that you say we don't beleive or don't apply to me or to what we call beleivers
Matthew 10:37 He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.
Onlike what is currently preached Christ wasn't running some club for christian frat brothers
John 6:60-67 Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it? When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you? What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before? It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father. From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away?
Jeus didn't run out on the street and fall on his face and say sorry I was just kidding.
Jesus didn't have the tinkling of organ music in an air conditioned church and give an alter call about behing his personal friend. Jesus didn't ask a single soul about accepting him as Lord -- all of this stuff is made up. And hiowever well intentioned it may be it subverts scripture.
Jesus did not die on the cross and suffer the humiliations and beatings he did so that you could sit as his judge and decide if He is worthy of your consideration.
Jesus did not command that confession be made only to run into some 21st century pesrson that styles themselves to be a Christian but they don't want any of that praising god stuff or or fanatical witnessing and preaching stuff -- if he let disciples go by the hundreds whom he directly taught is he going to fall on his face to you or your denomination and say you know your right I have been too narrow.
Salvation is very serious business and when we disobey and discount God's word with the words and traditions of men we are putting outselves in a very bad position.
Consider now the words of Mosses concerning the word of God ans it being a witness agaisnt the Jews after his death and then think of how the Words of Christ and the Apostles shall condemn all those stiffnecked rebellious people that falsely call themselves christians -- who suppose that they can rename themselves and do nothing in the bible or what they feel like and God to heaven. Deuteronomy 31:25-27 That Moses commanded the Levites, which bare the ark of the covenant of the LORD, saying, Take this book of the law, and put it in the side of the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, that it may be there for a witness against thee. For I know thy rebellion, and thy stiff neck: behold, while I am yet alive with you this day, ye have been rebellious against the LORD; and how much more after my death?
Consider Christ's frightening words in light of the millions that call themselves christians today
Matthew 7:13-15 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.
I think the problem he was addressing in stating blatant sinners shouldn't evangelize comes from having seen so many who will not admit their gross problems while telling others Christ is so needed.
We sinners must be willing to openly acknowledge our own wrongs as we help others admit and address theirs.
It is our pride that stops us, and that is not of God.
Christians should serve in the capacity they are suited to. I forget what passage that is, but it makes great sense. For many, that doesn't include outright preaching, but may be helping the poor and setting a Christian example. I know many people who have been turned off to Christ because they had a bad experience with a bad evangelist. About 10 years ago, a man tried to convert me. He actually was trying to change me into a Christian because he wanted a Christian wife and was attracted to me.
One thing stood out. He mentioned he had a one-night stand with a Sunday school teacher and was upset that she kept calling, objecting that "she was too sexual." I immediately shut my ears off to his preaching the gospel because he failed to take responsibility for his actions and exposed himself to be a hypocrite. I told him he was being hypocritical and mentioned I had been celibate for a long time. He said he was forgiven, but as to me "even the good deeds of the wicked are evil." I tracked down that passage and found it related to animal abuse. I mentioned to him that he did not take care of his cat, and that the passage he quoted related to caring for your animals. He became angry and told me I was losing out by rejecting him because he was, in a month, going to get his first large payment for an invention of his. That was enough to turn me off to the gospel until a little over a year ago.
I have known a few too many guys who have taken a different approach to winning the women they admire for Christ. They date them hoping to convert them and then marry. This, as well as your circumstance, are totally disingenuous Christian approaches.
I understand the desire. As a single guy, I note the qualities I like in women who aren't Christians and wonder. But I have never dated a woman who wasn't a Christian. I have only encouraged a life in Christ outside of any possibility.
Leading someone to Christ expecting a relationship in any form can just as easily make for an insincere conversion.
So these things must be done outside of ourselves and our desires. This takes the accountability of fellow Christians to assure; however, few step in to help. Most just encourage such practices.
God knows our hearts. Bad motives hidden by "good looking deeds" is wrong on all counts for they corrupt both parties in the end.
"You sound like you've been around the block a time or two and know what your talking about. So lets look at a few scriptures and you tell me if you think it's true or false? Or if you think that it doesn't apply to the church and beleivers today. And if you feel that way then you might help a poor dud like me in finding the scripture that says it doesn't apply to us.
Mark Chapter 16:15 - 15And Jesus said unto the disciples, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. 16He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. 17And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; 18They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. 19So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God. 20And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen."
Jesus gave these disciples the ability to perform miracles, not all that they saved, is my reading. I do think the people in Arizona who allow themselves to be bitten by venomous snakes are a little crazy. Those who are not harmed simply get a "dry bite" as we call it here in rattlesnake country. Those who are poisoned get the venom, in differing degrees and in different spots, which affects how they react to the poison. Remember that middle age Christian leaders in Europe tied stones to suspected witches bodies and said those who do not drown are witches, but those who do are innocent. How are we to know that those who didn't drown were saved by Christ Himself?
"Matthew 4:23 And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people.
See but it gets worse becuse it seems that Jesus has this thing about confessing his name before men. And somehow I get confused all the time into thinking that that preaching and being witinesses and confessing before men is all the same thing. "
Jesus did not tell all of the converts they could heal. I don't take confessing His name before men a commandment to preach necessarily, but to not deny Him and to proclaim you are a believer.
"Matthew 10:31-33 Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows. Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.
I also get confussed here because denying or one's silence seems to be not confessing. And Jesus says they're not beleivers. But maybe this is all wrong too!"
You are not confused at all. But I don't think running around screaming praise the Lord with no rhyme or reason is what He meant. Those He preached to came to Him, and were ready to hear the gospel. Someone planted to seed, and I don't think it was one who screamed at passers-by that they are going to hell. He was very concerned with the reputation of Christians. My understanding is that hypocrites, mean people or hell and damnation preachers don't reflect well on Christians.
"Matthew 10:31-33 Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows. Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.
Opps another bad verse . . ."
No, it's an excellent verse, and one that helped me to confess I am a Christian to my atheist/deist family. I can only use my own experiences to minister to them. I know for a fact that haranguing them with religious talk they are not ready to hear will do damage and prevent them from seeking Jesus, as it did me for a long time. They speak often of Christian hypocrites, and the way I share the word is to point out that Jesus actually agrees and back it up with scripture. A few years ago, they believed Jesus was intolerant and hateful, based on their experiences with hypocritical and judgemental Christians. Now they profess that He "was a wise man." That's the first step. If I were to rebuke them and accuse them of calling Jesus a liar because they don't believe He is the Son of God, as some would, they would not only turn from Jesus altogether, they would turn a deaf ear to me and there would be no one to help them along in their spiritual quest.
"Romans 15:9 And that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy; as it is written, For this cause I will confess to thee among the Gentiles, and sing unto thy name.
Surely Paul isn't suggesting tha he sings the name of God to the unsaved. Confessing would be bad enough."
When did I say confessing beleif in Christ was bad? In that time, singing and talking were the basic forms of communication. Now most of us are literate, have access to television, radio and the internet. I speak to unbeleivers and give testimony online, but I don't sing. Revelations never refers to cars and tanks. In the time of Christ, donkeys and camels were the mode of transportation. If it said ride your donkey and spread the gospel, I would not buy a donkey because I have a car. When there's a reference to an animal with many heads, often people assume it is a vehicle, not literally an animal with several heads.
So I don't take it all literally, but absorb the spirit of what was the intended message.
"Phlippians 2:10-12 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
May be we should kneel before God too, every tongue confess -- not only the preachers? Paul says the phillipians would do this not only in his presence but when he wa away and he says something about this being obeying and while were at it work out our own salvation with fear and trembling."
Confess that Christ is Lord and savior, yes. That's different than, say, the Christian who drives a beat up VW bus and chases people around (literally) in a psychedelic t-shirt screaming at them that they are going to hell for their sins.
"Could it be that I just beleive in a different Gospel that doesn't care or require any of these kind of hookey Bible things?"
No, we interpret it differently and have different means of briging people to God. I try what is effective for the individual I am trying to save. It is like trying to help a troubled or abused teen. The bible says not to spare the rod, but if a child has been abused, hitting them will not help them. So in that case, I guess I am going against what the bible says because the last thihg I would do to help an abused child is pick up a rod and strike him.
Consider other things in the bible, such as women covering themselves in churches. Literalist churches do not make them cover their heads.
If your hand or foot causes you to lose faith, do you really cut it off? Would you remove your eye if it caused you to lose faith? Are you going against God if you don't strictly observe the Sabbath? Jesus shows us there are exceptions. Though he didn't address every single modern issue in detail, we can understand through His example that there are grey areas in between the black and white. The holy spirit gives us the wisdom to discern."
2"corinthians 11:2-3 For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.
See there are lost of pastors and churches tkaht pick and choose what they want to beleive but they are free to pick and choose and build there own Gospel. That was a sin unto death at Paul's time and it still is."
Another gospel? What is the teaching regarding the Epistle of Barnabus? I understand nothing is to be taken from or added to the word of God. In this respect believing Christians take only the four gospels. The oldest NT in existence is in a British museum and includes the Epistle of Barnabus. How do we know early Christians didn't remove some texts and are we obligated to put other testimonies back into the teaching based on the fact that man chose what went in and what wasn't included in the bible?
"John 6:60-67 Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it? When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you? What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before? It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father. From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away?
Jeus didn't run out on the street and fall on his face and say sorry I was just kidding."
I never took issue with this or many other passages you included.
"Jesus didn't have the tinkling of organ music in an air conditioned church and give an alter call about behing his personal friend. Jesus didn't ask a single soul about accepting him as Lord -- all of this stuff is made up. And hiowever well intentioned it may be it subverts scripture."
I never said it was made up. I have critisized those in air-conditioned churches and hypocrite millionaire preachers and televangelists. I don't attend church, I reflect on God, not only on Sunday, on all days. Jesus Himself was very critical of the teachers of the Law, and I don't think it is a sin to do the same, or to interpret differently than other Christians. Jesus clearly was more concerned with doing God's work than with rites and rituals and external trappings of faith. Jews are supposed to be circumcized but Jesus said circumcision of the heart is what matters. Many Christians don't go to church. They work because they can't feed their families if they don't. Do you think Jesus will toss a poor man into the eternal fire because he didn't attend church or give tithes? Does this mean he loves his family more than Jesus?
"Jesus did not die on the cross and suffer the humiliations and beatings he did so that you could sit as his judge and decide if He is worthy of your consideration."
I never said I was thinking about deciding if He is worthy of my consideration. I simply have a different spin on scripture. Most people do. The bible does speak of not condemning your brother because he chooses not to eat certain things, or another if he does. Clearly, dietary issues were a matter of personal choice and Christ allowed for that.
"Jesus did not command that confession be made only to run into some 21st century pesrson that styles themselves to be a Christian but they don't want any of that praising god stuff or or fanatical witnessing and preaching stuff -- if he let disciples go by the hundreds whom he directly taught is he going to fall on his face to you or your denomination and say you know your right I have been too narrow."
My definition of confessing is different than yours. I start out meekly, and when a person becomes more accepting, I full-out preach.
"Salvation is very serious business and when we disobey and discount God's word with the words and traditions of men we are putting outselves in a very bad position."
Right. Salvation is the most important thing. If planting the seed rather than screaming at people and making them turn their eyes from you helps save a person, I will plant the seed every time. You don't seem to understand. My efforts are directed toward those like me, with my personality traits, those who have been in my place. I can relate to them and gauge how best to deliver the word. For people like me who are a little cantankerous, intellectual, set in their ways, stubborn and filled with "contrarianism," there is a different means of witnessing. It took an act of Jesus Himself to convert me. The seed was planted in me by believers who did not outright bully me with hellfire and damnation. I saw they were true Christians and admired them. I spoke of hypocrisy to them and they showed me that Jesus agreed. I decided on my own to look into His word, intellectually. That is what worked with me, and I believe it works with others like me. So I do preach the gospel, not traditionally, and taking into account where a person is spiritually. One size does not fit all.
"and then think of how the Words of Christ and the Apostles shall condemn all those stiffnecked rebellious people that falsely call themselves christians -- who suppose that they can rename themselves and do nothing in the bible or what they feel like and God to heaven."
Are you implying I am not a Christian? I know the requirements of being a Christian. Disagreements over how best to evangelize certain people is not indicative that one doesn't have faith!
"Consider Christ's frightening words in light of the millions that call themselves christians today
Matthew 7:13-15 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it."
Many Christians are pro-war, and call those who disagree with war non-Christians. Is that Christ's word or man's opinion? Did Christ make war on the Romans to free people from occupation? Often, Christians (note I do not deny they are Christians) cite an eye for an eye, when I believe in turning the other cheek. Often Christians say liberals cannot be Christians, based on the party platform on abortion. But can it be said republicans can't be Christians because they ridicule the homeless and support a President who condones child and slave labor with his support of trade agreements with third world countries? How many "Christians" buy goods made in Indonesia or India knowing the poor are being exploited?
Hi Scott. I recently recounted a story of a Christian woman who did the same as the gentleman described above. She liked everything about him, dated him for 6 months and during that time tried to convert him. This man is a relative and I explained to her that forcing church on him won't turn him to Christ and that he will never be a churchgoer. I've been working on him slowly for a year, and he has slowly come to accept more and more. This woman turned out to be a hypocrite and she gave him an ultimatum. Go to her church and bible study every week or else she won't date him anymore. She judged him for things she herself did, and placed "devilish" motives (that's the DEVIL speaking out of you!") on him for pulling harmless practical jokes on people. He said his old barn blew down during the recent storm, then 5 minutes later said "na, I was putting you on." For that she accused him of being a "Liar." When people like this set such a poor and judgemental example, they shouldn't evangelize because they turn people FROM God.
A month ago, he was reading the bible. Today he asked me why I was reading it. He said not to become one of those hypocritical fanatics like her.
Her bad evangelism and poor example turned him from God when not long ago he was looking His way. Now I've gotta try and undo the damage. I told him today that her behavior in many instances was contrary to what Christ teaches, and that it is not a reflection on Christ, it's a reflection on her. What am I to do?
when he started in about people who say praise God, witnessing was out and fanatics -- to me that spells -- CINO
Ir appears that he is a lot more mainstream than any read of what he said would have allowed.
And by his remarks he has ammended his initial comments except for the fanatics and people riding around in a VW bus yelling about people going to hell.
I don't think I have ever seen people who do that. We have a fundamentalist church that engages in protests carrying signs but no bull horns or yelling -- I do not agree with their activism at all --
Certainly yelling about hell and ttreatening people with death is not preaching the Gospel
Being deceptive and lying to get people to be saved -- I've seen examples of that and am against that. Someone else gave me a vigorous stand that they could use any means possible using a verse from a parable compel them to come in. This was a big fundamentalist church
I agrued they should them offer crack to drug addicts, why not set up hookers I sore for some free nookie people might go to their church
The person said well not illegal stuff but was cool with unscrupulous and desceptive means.
Back to this FR guy we can say we have different interpretations but when the words are different than ours that becomes a problem
example: These signs shall follow them that beleive . . . His answer was christ gave healing to his disciples but did not say he gave it to all believers.
Now my experiance does not contain several items in Mark 16 First the word beleive is plural so collectively bleivers have these signs not nesc. individually.
But if the word of God says something is true and I don't see it in my day does it make it false or no longer operative? No it means that we are doing something different and that we don't have the relationship with God that beleivers once had.
There are terms and doctrines mentioned in the NT that we know little about -- but master theologians pretend they are experts and make it up as they go along.
Much of current doctrine has been made up in the past 250 -300 years but no one cares about church history or Greek Hebrew but what ever my favorite translation says that makes it all right.
I found a funny quote earlier today from the 1700's concerning evangelism.
Ryland invited the younger brethren to propose a subject for discussion. There was no reply, till at last the Moulton preacher suggested, doubtless with an ill-restrained excitement, "whether the command given to the Apostles, to teach all nations, was not obligatory on all succeeding ministers to the end of the world, seeing that the accompanying promise was of equal extent. 1785 Old Brother Ryland in a Baptist ministers meeting to William Carey William Careys and the aged chairman shouted out the rebuke--"You are a miserable enthusiast for asking such a question. Certainly nothing can be done before another Pentecost, when an effusion of miraculous gifts, including the gift of tongues, will give effect to the commission of Christ as at first." It was then that Carey wrote his own contribution to the discussion he would have raised on a duty which was more than seventeen centuries old, and had been for fourteen of these neglected: 1. Some have accused "Calvinists" of being so heavenly minded that theyre no earthly good; of putting so much emphasis on Gods sovereignty that they completely ignore a Christians responsibility to witness and evangelize the lost. a. Perhaps youve heard about the famous response of a Baptist deacon to William Careys concern for the heathen. He said, "Young man, listen to me. When God is pleased to convert the heathen, He will do it without your aid or mine."
The doctrines that any denomination preach rise and fall like the tide. And we appear to be in a major tidal shift these days.
When you posted the quotes that struck me at the time were:
I have found that sharing the gospel doesn't work well."
Planting the seed does [work as opposed to sharing or winessing]
who runs around screaming "Praise the Lord!
Others tell unbeleivers they are going to hell unless they repent. [This being bad}
Christians with problems like divorce , kids who are drug addicts should not evangelize.
This is what I read and what I reponded to.
In your response you have made it abundantly clear that unlike the post might indicate that you are not opposed to witnessing, sharing and preaching the gospel -- and that is what I followed hard after.
And the my remarks can be tempered with the thought that if a person can cavalierly remove evangelism in its many forms from the Gospels -- this would be indicative of person's lack of beleive that the bible is the sole authority of doctrine for Christainity.
I see from our reponses that you are much more of a believer than it first appeared.
At first I thought you were some luke-warm evangelical So I opologize for dropping the hammer on you.
If you would like I would like to have a discussion on interpretation of scripture. There are issues to explore about the criteria that various churches use.
"When you posted the quotes that struck me at the time were:
I have found that sharing the gospel doesn't work well."
I did say sharing the gospel didn't work with people not ready ready to hear it. In the meantime, you plant the seed.
"Planting the seed does [work as opposed to sharing or winessing]"
Sharing or witnessing is planting the seed. If you hammer and hammer, you aren't planting the seed, you are hoeing the unbeliever.
"Others tell unbeleivers they are going to hell unless they repent. [This being bad} "
Ineffective and insulting in my opinion. Most people don't respond well to this.
"And the my remarks can be tempered with the thought that if a person can cavalierly remove evangelism in its many forms from the Gospels -- this would be indicative of person's lack of beleive that the bible is the sole authority of doctrine for Christainity."
You said "evangelism in its many forms." That was my point. It takes on many forms, and should vary according to the individual. It can be as simple as talking to a troubled person and suggesting they ask for God's help, to give it a try and do it from the heart.
"I see from our reponses that you are much more of a believer than it first appeared."
I am a new believer, and still learning and being humbled by God. I see my failings, and I ask Him to help me take the log from my eyes. Today I was thinking 'I am so critical of other people, Christian and non-Christian, but look at me!' God doesn't want me to talk about other people's immorality before addressing my own.
"At first I thought you were some luke-warm evangelical So I opologize for dropping the hammer on you."
Ah, I deserve to get hammered sometimes.
"If you would like I would like to have a discussion on interpretation of scripture. There are issues to explore about the criteria that various churches use."
Yeah, I would. I have a really hard time with the Old Testament, accepting some of things in there and I'm confused on time frames. I've already learned much from Christian friends, but that critical side of my nature and negativity creeps in when I am reading the OT.
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"And by his remarks he has ammended his initial comments except for the fanatics and people riding around in a VW bus yelling about people going to hell.
I don't think I have ever seen people who do that."
There is a man up here who does! About a year before I was saved, I saw him across the street from the town store. I was checking out his psychedelic VW bus, thinking he was an acid freak. Then he came running (ok, jogging) toward me with a "Jesus is Lord" shirt, psychedelic and pink. His hair was wild, long and all over the place. I jumped in my car and got on down the road pretty quick. I should judge him, but at the time I thought Jesus made him crazy.
I am a she and I am sorry my opinionated, critical nature is offensive. I am working on that. God gave me a wake-up call, last night in fact, in the form of an ex boyfriend laying into me about being negative and "high and mighty."
He was referring to my habit of getting mad at him when he takes the Lord's name in vain (which is often), but it applies elsewhere too, and after reading my posts here, I can understand why you feel the way you do. I AM trying to tame my tongue, brother, but it's hard.
I found the Lord in 1972. My father had died when I was 10 years old and that sent my family on a spiraling path into God's hands. It was quite a bumpy ride. The first few years are somewhat hazy in that it all began as a vague desire for God and a confession with my lips -- not the kind of stuff books are written about and little by little I gained strength as I fellowshipped with true beleivers and saw the joy in their hearts and their love for God and oneanother and I began reading the bible (A comic version of the bible). After about two years suddenly things started happening in jumps that were breath taking to me and those around me in those days. There were miraculous events and displays of God power and providence graduated H.S.
Through a series of event I was guided to go to bibl school -- I went not to be a minister or work in theministry I went to have a more personal relationship with God , and nothing more
Went to Bible School were I became a door mat reviled and despeised by most of the students my first two years. I was offensive in that I prayed and read the bible and talked about God all the time, while others prefered spending their free time hanging out in clicks, dating, and hanging out at snack bar. As when I was in HS God started to move in my life once again demonstrating his power and his love. For several years I held alone these late night prayer meetings and God began to show up and manifest his spirit in marvelous ways. So once that was going I decided to invite some of my fellow students to experiance what God was doing and night after night they would show up and ride waves of God's spirit or whatever was going on that night.
When I left the school the Lord had raised me from being a doormat to being spoken of by the president of the Bible collage as being one of the best students the school ever had.
I went to pioneer a church in Lorton virginia with one of the people that came to the classroom prayer meetings. I did not feel the calling nor did I feel any adequecy of my own to go and do such a thing. Never the less God was with me and moved heaven and earth to put my and the other pweson together he then miraculously provided a property with three houses on US 1 in Lorton Va for 240.00 a month I felt compelled and converted the second house into a church and I started meetings there with my friend Don after a few weeks He said he didn't want to preach or teach and left the meetings to me. We never had more tahn a handful of people and as far as I know we had one elderly man that would come in -- he was hated and reviled locally and he would sit through the meetings and sit nad quietly pray at the end for some periods of time after the meetings.
From their the wheels feel off -- first I found my best friend who was married in bed with my wife's sister within month or so we lost the property we lost the church.
On invitation from the president to run the maintenace department I returned to the Bible school -- from day one I was treated with absolute contempt and within a month I was asked to leave I will not go into that I will only say that I have never felt so utterly rejected in my life I had a young wife and a young child at the time and we had sold all to go yup there. The president apologised and offered to pay ou r expenses I refused and limped back to virginia. I was so crushed I could not fellowship or read the bible for a period of time -- I did pray and talk to God and the thing deepened I met backslidden christians and preachers and I spent hundreds of hours meditating on bible school what I had been taught, what I had preached and my interactions with other beleivers the positive ones, but I especially concentratied on the negative ones to try to see what I could have said and done differently.
from this I gained several things that I would not have gained had I had a sucessful church or ministry. Certain things that I had beleived I could no longer verify in scripture, certain traditions of men became exposed, I also found myself to be a woeful sinner before God I found that with all my teaching that I was blind I found with "as righteous as I had been in my own eyes and men taht I was naked before God, I found that while I though myself wealthy in the spirit I was bankrupt -- This I will ever count as the most important point of transition in my life. During this period I cried out to God of the pain and darkness I cried out how unfail it was, and how rejected I felt. So that when God finally pulled the veil from my eyes and revealed what he had done and how he had accomplished it I stood before him never being able to claim I had done this by my own strength, Not by sheer will not by my faith, not even by my love for God for the last month or so I wept before God, I even prayed to die for knew I had so utterly failed him, and that there was nothing righteous in me. I had defiled myself in words and deeds with others I felt that there was almost noredemtption for me. Then one night late in november God spoke in an almost audible voice and said. "You are released." At first I didn't know what to make of it all I know is I felt the peace of God flood into my burning tormented soul.
After a few days the words took meaning and I found that I could fellowship and read the word again. And for the firstime in my bones and deep in my spirit I understood how the disciples had felt after the ressurection for their betrayal and sinful behavior. Had they not come to that point God would have never been able to endue them with power from on high. And they would have become just as corrupt as some of the Churches and ministries today.
The first and most important thing you can be taught is that Christ is Lord of your life. As Christains we recieve of his portion not of our own portion. We have no portion of God appart from Christ. The greater we yeild to him the greater he will give of himself to us. Jesus promised that he would manifest himself to beleivers -- that is to make apparent to our five senses. Jesus walks and talks and yet speaks. As Christians Christ is our high priest and we have no need of another when we accept surrogates in his place to do our praying to do our bible reading to do our meditating and to do our spiritual service to God we strip ourselves of our call and of our relationship with God grealy weakening us. We are not to forsake fellowship with one another but we can not base our walk on the rise or fall of others. Each of us are calledto be unique vessels unto him that show forth his glory unfortunatley people have come to the belief that we can copy and imitate one another and their are bible collages and churches that are spiritual caneries that ship their special product all around the world but in so doing the church has been greatly deprived of other gifts and ministries tha might have come into being but were subverted and replaced with cheap imitations of what God had wrought in someone else. Be encouraged speak often to God and tell him that you have trouble with anger and being critical . The pharisee would seek to control these for ourward appearance of their peers -- the beleiver in christ confesses their faults and God removes them from the inside out -- this is grace the other is a form of works.
I hope some of this speak to your heart Well
HI Rocketman. Thank you for sharing your story. Mine isn't nearly as interesting. No bible schools, no bible study, nothing. Just a prayer from me ("if you are there, PLEASE show me and help me get over my fear and bigotry) in a time of need, and a divine appointment with a black Christian--one that was no coincidence. Within a week, my fear was gone and so was the malice in my heart.
I am a work in progress, and I do pray daily that God will help me with my personal shortcomings. Before I would get mad that in answer to prayer, something bad happened. Now when bad things happen, I understand He is teaching me a valuable lesson and humbling me. He has done so many, many times. I am so thankful that He still loves me, even when I fail myself and Him.
these are a few verses on the subject of what God is working in your life and of what importance it is.
1John1:1-3 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us; That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you. I spoke before of this personal testimony, this personal experience of the acts of God as being a law that Isaiah did not preach Jeremiah and Jeremiah did not speak Ezekiel each spoke only that which they saw and heard likewise paul does not preach peter pter does not preach John and John does not preach paul. John 3:11 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, we speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen . . .
Acts 4:20 For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard. Now if this point were not important it would not be repeated again and again but it has somehow slipped under the churchs radar screen like most things that pertain to life and godliness, glory and virtue.
Matthew 11:4 Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see: Here we catch Jesus commanding the disciples of John to speak only that which they have seen and heard.
Romans 15:18-20 For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ hath not wrought by me, to make the Gentiles obedient, by word and deed, Through mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God; so that from Jerusalem, and round about unto Illyricum, I have fully preached the gospel of Christ.
Why does Paul the Apostle say that he dare not? The dare not implies that if Paul would speak of what Christ did in others, or preached what Christ had taught others there would be unwelcome consequences ie no mighty signs and wonders no power of the spirit of God So in his ministry Paul says by preaching what God wroght in Paul and what Christ taught Paul he was fully preaching the Gospel Because the Gospel is what God has wrought in you and taught you.
Despeise not the day of small things . . .
read later - Survive
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