In our eagerness to make converts, I am afraid we have been guilty of using the techniques of modern salesmanship–which is of course to present only the desirable qualities in a product, and ignore the rest. We go to men and offer them a cozy home on the sunny side of the hill. If they will but accept Christ–then He will . . .
give them peace of mind,
solve their problems,
prosper their business,
protect their families and
keep them happy all day long.
They believe us and come–and the first cold wind sends them shivering to some counselor to find out what has gone wrong; and that is the last we hear of many of them.
The teachings of Christ reveal Him to be a realist in the finest meaning of that word. Nowhere in the Gospels do we find Him making over-optimistic promises. He told His hearers the whole truth, and let them make up their minds. He never ran after the retreating form of an inquirer who could not face up to the truth–to try to win him with rosy promises.
He would have men follow Him, knowing the cost–or He would let them go their ways.
All this is but to say that Christ is honest. We can trust Him. He knows that He will never be popular among the lost world–and He knows that His followers need not expect to be. The wind that blows in His face will be felt by all who travel with Him, and we are not intellectually honest when we try to hide that fact from others.
It is very strange that people who modestly decline to risk an opinion on matters which do not closely concern them at all, such as philosophy or science for instance–are often ready and eager to pronounce with finality on matters of religion, which above all else is vital to their welfare for this world and that which is to come.
This follows the popular notion that everyone is capable of discovering the true way to Heaven for himself–and that one man’s belief is as good as another’s.
A second tenet in this creed, is that no one has the right to question the belief of anyone else, or to try to influence him in any way in religious matters.
This leads naturally to the third tenet, which is that we should practice complete acceptance toward every expression of religious belief, however base or ill-founded it may be, and accept it as a legitimate way of worshiping God, even if it isn’t ours.
All this has about it a certain savor of charity and slips well off the lips of politicians, who are forced to try to please everyone–and liberal ministers who find it profitable to do so. But the true Christian can never bring himself to sell out his soul in that manner. The man who has heard the voice of Jesus saying, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me”–can never get the consent of his heart to thus trifle with religion. He has been smitten with the love of God, and the wonder of the cross–and he can never again be flexible in things which concern his soul and the souls of his fellow men.
He will live beside, be patient with, minister to, pray for and love any religionist of whatever color or creed–from a Catholic Cardinal, to a medicine man from the bush–but never will he compromise the truth to stay on good terms with anyone.
He will never trifle with men’s souls!
“They admitted that they were strangers and pilgrims on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country–a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them!” Hebrews 11:14-16
Let no one apologize for the powerful emphasis which Christianity lays upon the doctrine of the world to come.
The church is constantly being tempted to accept this present world as her home, and sometimes she has listened to the blandishments of those who would woo her away and use her for their own ends. But if she is wise, she will consider that she stands in the valley between the mountain peaks of eternity past and eternity to come. The past is gone forever–and the present is passing as swift as the shadow on the sundial of Ahaz. Even if the earth should continue a million years, not one of us could stay to enjoy it.
We would do well, to think of the long tomorrow!
“They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever!” Revelation 20:10
“And they will reign for ever and ever!” Revelation 22:5
“To Him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb–be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!” Revelation 5:13
The only power God recognizes in His Church, is the power of His Spirit. Whereas the only power actually recognized today by the majority of evangelicals, is the power of man. God does His work by the operation of the Spirit–while Christian leaders attempt to do theirs by the power of trained intellect. Bright personality, has taken the place of the divine influence. But only what is done through the Eternal Spirit, will abide eternally.
For centuries the Church stood solidly against every form of worldly entertainment, recognizing it for what it was:
a device for wasting time,
a refuge from the disturbing voice of conscience,
a scheme to divert attention from moral accountability.
But of late she appears to have decided that if she cannot conquer the great god entertainment–she may as well join forces with him and make what use she can of his power.
Christianity is so entangled with the world, that millions never guess how radically they have missed the New Testament pattern. Compromise is everywhere!
Evangelical Christianity is now tragically below the New Testament standard.
Worldliness is an accepted part of our way of life.
Our religious mood is social, instead of spiritual.
We have lost the art of worship.
We are not producing saints.
Our models are successful business men, celebrated athletes and theatrical personalities.
We carry on our religious activities after the methods of the modern advertiser.
Our homes have been turned into theaters.
Our literature is shallow, and our hymnody borders on sacrilege.
And scarcely anyone appears to care!
Therefore, holy brothers, who share in the heavenly calling–fix your thoughts on Jesus!”Hebrews 3:1
“Bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5
What we think about when we are free to think about what we will–that is what we are, or will soon become.
Anyone who wishes to check on his true spiritual condition may do so by noting what his voluntary thoughts have been over the last hours or days. What has he thought about, when free to think of what he pleased? Toward what has his inner heart turned, when it was free to turn where it would?
When the bird of thought was let go, did it fly out like the raven to settle upon floating carcasses–or did it like the dove circle and return again to the ark of God? Such a test is easy to run, and if we are honest with ourselves we can discover not only what we are–but what we are going to become. We will soon be the sum of our voluntary thoughts!
Long practice in the art of mental prayer (that is, talking to God inwardly as we work or travel) will help to form the habit of holy thoughts.
“For as he thinks within himself, so he is.” Proverbs 23:7
“Oh, Lord, You know the constant struggle which we have with our thought life. You know how often our thoughts settle on rotten carcasses. Take control of my thoughts today, and move me along in the development of the habit of holy thought. Amen.”
“For as he thinks within himself, so he is.” Proverbs 23:7
Rules for Self Knowledge:
1. What we want most.
2. What we think about most.
3. How we use our money.
4. What we do with our leisure time.
5. The company we enjoy.
6. Who and what we admire.
“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things!” Colossians 3:1-2
“Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,” says the LORD Almighty! Zechariah 4:6
You know, the Church started out with a Bible, then it got a hymnbook, and for years that was it–a Bible and a hymnbook. The average church now certainly wouldn’t be able to operate on just a hymnbook and the Bible. Now we have to have all kinds of religious bunk. A lot of people couldn’t serve God at all without at least a vanload of equipment to keep them happy.
Some of these attractions that we have to win people and keep them coming may be fine, or they may be cheap. They may be elevated, or they may be degrading. They may be artistic, or they may be coarse–it all depends upon who is running the show! But the Holy Spirit is not the center of attraction, and the Lord is not the one who is in charge. We bring in all sorts of anti-Scriptural and unscriptural claptrap to keep the people happy and keep them coming.
As I see it, the great woe is not the presence of these religious toys and trifles–but the fact that they have become a necessity, and the presence of the Eternal Spirit is not in our midst!
“If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” Matthew 16:24
The cross of popular evangelicalism is not the cross of the New Testament.
It is, rather–a new bright ornament upon the bosom of a self-assured and carnal Christianity.
The old cross slew men–the new cross entertains them.
The old cross humbled men–the new cross amuses them.
The old cross destroyed confidence in the flesh–the new cross encourages it.
The old cross brought tears and blood–the new cross brings laughter.
The flesh, smiling and confident, preaches and sings about the cross. Before that cross it bows, and toward that cross it points with carefully staged histrionics–but upon that cross it will notdie, and the reproach of that cross, it stubbornly refuses to bear.
We must do something about the cross, and only one of two things we can do–flee from it, ordie upon it.
The man who takes up the cross no longer controls his destiny–he lost control, when he picked up his cross. That cross immediately became to him an all-absorbing interest, an overwhelming passion. No matter what he may desire to do, there is but one thing he can do–that is, move on toward the place of crucifixion!
“May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world!” Galatians 6:14