Wednesday, February 08, 2006the Christian litmus test...
This past Lord's Day, my pastor mentioned something concerning our use of the King James bible that really got me thinking. He was pointing out that while he was convinced that our use of the KJV was appropriate and good, it probably wouldn't be too hard to find an NIV bible reader that was more spiritual than us. I wasn't at all surprised or shocked at his statement because I can think of a few souls, just at the top of my head, that are WAY MORE spiritual than myself, while professing doctrines that I frown at.
This subject matter came back to mind today after a visit at Puritan Belief. PB wrote a post on his opposition to tithing (a position I do not share, as you can see from the comments... lol). You see, it occurred to me, that often the indicators I use to determine a Christian's degree of spirituality is all too often, non-doctrinal. Considering my love of theology, and the importance I place on it, this may surprise some of you, but if you look at my list of indicators below, I'm sure you'll see that there is merit my reasoning:
Indicator # 1: Evangelism
Every Gospel in the Bible ends with some mention to the Great Commission. We are commanded in an unqualified way, to go out and preach the Gospel of Christ to the WHOLE WORLD!
"And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." (Mark 16:15)
"Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you." (John 20:21)
The necessity and importance of evangelism is so clear in Scripture, hardly any Christians apply themselves to it. How sad is that?
Indicator # 2: Grace Giving
A Christian that doesn't give is a terribly sick Christian, or perhaps, no Christian at all. Again, the Scriptures are soooo clear, but unlike evangelism which sometimes takes much courage, giving is SO EASY to do!
"And he looked up, and saw the rich men casting their gifts into the treasury. And he saw also a certain poor widow casting in thither two mites. And he said, Of a truth I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast in more than they all: for all these have of their abundance cast in unto the offerings of God: but she of her penury hath cast in all the living that she had." (Luke 21:1-4)
"Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; that they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life." (1 Timothy 6:17-19)
And when considering the above verse, I remind you: if you have a personal computer with internet service, YOU ARE RICH IN THIS WORLD.
Also, I don't believe giving tithe is a proper fulfillment of these verses. I believe it should be MORE.
Indicator # 3: The Lord's Day
There is no doubt from Scripture that God's people gathered on the Lord's Day (Sunday) to worship God together. The Lord's Day wasn't work-day, or BBQ-day, or golf-day. It was a day given over to God.
"And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight." (Acts 20:7)
In the 10 Commandments, Israel was instructed to keep the Sabbath day holy. God, in His infinite wisdom knew that His people needed to keep ONE DAY out of the week for Him and for Him only. God isn't in the business of vanity. While they were not (as we are not) saved by the works of the Law, the Law (all 10 Commandments) is good and profitable; ignoring or scorning God's Law isn't a New Testament teaching. Keeping, as much as possible, ONE DAY holy unto God is of great value and importance to God's saints.
Indicator # 4: Church Services
I remember calling a local church from my parent's house one summer (this would be during my college years). I asked the pastor what time his mid-week service started at.
"Mid-week service... oh we don't have a mid-week service Rand" he said slowly. "Would you be interested in that Rand? I tried to get some going a few years ago, but no one was interested."
No one was interested. NO ONE WAS INTERESTED??? What in the world is going on here? How can it be that saints of God would be UNINTERESTED in attending a mid-week bible study or prayer meeting? What do you think these saints were up to on their wednesday nights? Honouring God, or watching Seinfeld or the Simpsons?
Shame on them.
"Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching." (Hebrews 10:25)
Indicator # 5: Spiritual Conversation
By this I am not referring to the King James definition of "conversation" (as in, a "way of life"), but rather the more modern definition: to speak, to converse.
I see it all the time. Christians meeting together and the subject of conversation: golf. WHAT? God doesn't care about any of His children's golf handicap!!! So why in the world are we wasting our time together speaking of things that have ZERO profit. What do the Scripture say?
"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord." (Colossians 3:16)
This is a good use of our time together as the body of Christ. Not dumb sports, vain politics, or other worldly affairs.
These five indicators aren't always "fool-proof", but in general, they do reveal the good, or corrupt fruit in a man/woman (Matthew 7:20). And when you take a close look, you realize that a Christian's theology can vary quite a bit, and he/she can still do quite well with these indicators. Arminian, Calvinist, Amillenial, Dispensational, KJV-only or anything-but-KJV, they can all do fairly well if they are honest, and diligent at working out these indicators.
When we stand before God, brothers and sisters, the Lord will not check any "Calvinist" or "KJV-only" i.d. cards. He will judge every one of us, that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. (2 Corinthians 5:10)