I’ve had to ask myself the question as I’ve watched the news. So.many.issues. are playing out in the news that we Christians are having to look at ourselves and ask, What do I really believe? Do my actions support my beliefs? I’ve often heard it put this way: If you were in a court of law, could you be convicted of being a Christian through both word and deed?
I’ve recently been formatting and editing a Constitution and Bylaws project for Dan. If you don’t know what that is, it is the foundational document of a church that details the Biblical doctrines and principles it believes (Constitution/Statement of Faith). The Bylaw section are practical ways in which the church will deal with the business dealings of the church without violating any of the Biblical doctrines and principles found in the Bible or their Statement of Faith.
One of the things Dan asked me to do in the Constitution and Bylaws was to add in the actual verses instead of simply the references. Here’s a sample of the doctrine of salvation with only references and how it might look in most Constitution and Bylaws:
WE BELIEVE THAT SALVATION IS ONLY BY GRACE THROUGH FAITH IN THE LORD JESUS CHRIST; that it is a free gift of God neither merited nor secured in part or whole by any virtue or work of man; that salvation comes only by personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ in Whom each true believer finds the gift of eternal life, perfect righteousness, sonship in the family of God, deliverance and security from all condemnation, every spiritual resource needed for abundant life and Godliness, and the divine guarantee that he shall never perish, but is begotten unto a lively hope, to an inheritance incorruptible and kept by the power of God. (Luke 13:3; John 1:12, 5:24; Romans 6:23, 10:9, 10, 13; Acts 4:12, 16:31; Ephesians 2:8-9; II Corinthians 5:21, 7:9-10; Titus 3:5; I Peter 1:3-5)
See that long list of verse references? Truth. Tell me how many of you actually would pull out your Bible or tap your Bible app to read them? That is why Dan wants me to include them.
Which brings me to being a pretender. According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, the word pretend means: 1) to give a false appearance of being, possessing, or performing;
2) a : to make believe : feign, b : to claim, represent, or assert falsely.
As I was working the project, I began reading the verses in connection with their topic. I’ve probably read these verses thousands of times. Somehow, though, the impact and gravity of those verses when connected with the beliefs and expectations of the believer in the church struck me like no other time I can remember.
Here is a sample regarding the Biblical principle of love. For space sake, I’ve only included a handful of the verses in their entirety.
WE BELIEVE THAT WE SHOULD DEMONSTRATE LOVE FOR OTHERS, NOT ONLY TOWARD FELLOW BELIEVERS, but also toward those who are not believers, those who oppose us, and those who engage in sinful actions. We are to deal with those who oppose us graciously, gently, patiently, and humbly. God forbids the stirring up of strife, the taking of revenge, or the threat or the use of violence as a means of resolving personal conflict or obtaining personal justice. Although God commands us to abhor sinful actions, we are to love and pray for any person who engages in such sinful actions. (Leviticus 19:18; Matthew 5:44-48; Luke 6:31; John 13:34-35; Romans 12:9-10, 17-21, 13:8-10; Philippians 2:2-4; II Timothy 2:24-26; Titus 3:2; I John 3:17-18)
Leviticus 19:18, Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the Lord.
Luke 6:31, And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.
John 13:34-35, A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. 35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
Philippians 2:2-4, Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. 3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. 4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.
Titus 3:2, To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men.
I John 3:17-18, But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? 18 My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.
There is usually a Covenant section in the Constitution and Bylaws. For lack of any other way to describe it, the Covenant section is a pledge that each member of a church agrees to when they become a member of a church. Here is an abbreviated sample of the Covenant section:
Having been led, as we believe, by the Spirit of God, to receive the Lord Jesus Christ as our Savior, and on profession of our faith, having been baptized in the name of our Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, we do now, in the presence of God, angels, and this assembly, most solemnly and joyfully enter into covenant with one another, as one body in Christ.
We engage, therefore, by the aid of the Holy Spirit, to walk together in Christian love; to strive for the advancement of this church in knowledge, holiness and comfort; to promote its prosperity and spirituality; to sustain its worship, ordinances, discipline and doctrines;…
We also engage to maintain family and private devotions; to religiously educate our children; to seek the salvations of our kindred, acquaintances, and all others; to walk circumspectly in the world; to be just in our dealings, faithful to our engagements, and exemplary in our deportment; to avoid all tattling, backbiting, and excessive anger; to abstain from worldly amusements …
We further engage to watch over one another in brotherly love; to remember each other in prayer; to aid each other in sickness and distress; to cultivate Christian sympathy in feeling and courtesy of speech; to be slow to take offence, but always ready for reconciliation, and mindful of the rules of our Savior, and to secure reconciliation without delay.
We moreover engage that when we remove from this place, we will unite, as soon as possible, with some other church where we can carry out the spirit of this covenant and the principles of God’s Word.
If you were a member of this local church, could you say that you were following the beliefs and practices of your church?
Nevertheless, these are meant for every Christian, each one of us who is a member of the Body of Christ… not simply members of a church.
Every principle and doctrine of the Bible is meant for us, for me. Every “thou shalt” and “thou shalt not,” every “love thy neighbor,” every “be kind,” every “avenge not yourselves.” Every.single.verse of the Bible is meant for us. For me.
The Christian world has been rocked in 2015. Christians are having to decide if they are going to follow God’s Word or if they are going to give up their livelihoods. Many Christians (both leaders and pew sitters) have been caught up in the Ashley Madison scandal. Some who have been sleeping regarding the abortion issue have been shocked into reality by the Planned Parenthood videos. Illegal immigration is a hot topic; what is a Christian to do? Then, there is the unabashed martyrdom of Christians by ISIS.
In our churches, we demand democracy instead of following God’s authorities. We have accepted patriotism in place of piety. Our Bible study is based on eisegesis (what does the passage mean to me) rather than exegesis (what does the passage mean). We have become silent when we should be shouting. We have buried when we should have rooted out. We criticize rather than confront; we judge rather than repent. We have wrapped ourselves in self-righteousness instead of baring our brokenness. We have practiced sacrifice over obedience.
We might be found innocent of being a Christian.
There is a great shaking, a stirring, a sifting. In the days, weeks, and months ahead we must not worry about the church. No. God will take care of His church. Each individual must concern himself with only himself. How will you stand during the shaking? As God stirs your heart, how will you respond? Will you sift out those things in your life that hinder you from becoming more Christ-like, more convictable? Are you a pretender? Or, are you the real deal?
2 Chronicles 7:14, If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.
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