Luke 6:46 states “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?” The apostle John confirms Jesus’ words: (1 John 2:3-6) “And how can we be sure that we belong to him? By obeying his commandments. If someone says, ‘I belong to God,’ but doesn’t obey God’s commandments, that person is a liar and does not live in the truth. But those who obey God’s word really do love him. That is the way to know whether or not we live in him. Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Christ did.”
Very clear in what is being expressed. Very pointed as to the connection between living according to God’s Word and being a believer or a Christian. In other words, a Christian or believer is someone who lives according to God’s Word and obeys what the Lord has spoken.
In some research recently in the U.S.A. by Barna Group we find detailed the findings of a study in which he analyzed more than 10,000 personal interviews from around the nation -and discovered that most people who claim to be Christian don’t have the mind of God on imporant issues. Here’s what Barna reported:
84% said their religious faith is very important in their own life
70% claimed that their own religious faith is consistently growing deeper
84% claimed to be Christians
60% said they believe the Bible is totally accurate in all that it teaches
75% said they are absolutely or somewhat committed to Christianity
But the same people also deemed the following behaviors and lifestyles “morally acceptable”:
Cohabitation – 60%
Abortion – 45%
Adultery – 42%
Sexual relations between homosexuals – 30%
Gambling – 61%
Poronography – 38%
Use of profanity – 36%
The conclusion: The respondents either don’t know God’s Word or choose not to abide by it. Clearly, a decision to follow Christ does not supernaturally impart the wisdom found in God’s Word. But rather than studying it, far too many evangelicals are living from church service to church service or religious experience to religious experience – a habit that will not help them develop the foundation they need to navigate life successfully according to God’s will.
(Charisma – January, 2009)
This means that many who believe that they are true converts or real Christians are going to find out one day that they are not. To be a believer (disciple) a person needs to know God’s Word, “abide in that Word” (according to Jesus – John 15) and live out His Word in their daily lives. One cannot depend only on a once-a-week feeding on a Sunday through a sermon as good as the teaching may be. One must feed on God’s Word daily – reading and heeding that Word. Being a hearer only is not good enough, the Bible states. One must read and heed – applying the truths one discovers to one’s life immediately.
And we have far too many who are basing their Christian walk and beliefs on experiences – subjective experiences – instead of on God’s objective Word. So, they go from one experience to another believing they are hearing God and doing what God would have them do – when nothing could be further from the truth. They are simply deceived – self-deceived but deceived none-the-less.
It is time to strongly recommend to God’s people that to be a believer means to believe – believe God’s Word as it is stated in the Bible. And, more than that, it means to apply that Word to every day life, circumstances and situations. One cannot, as a true believer, live by their personal experiences or their personal opinions. We must read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest God’s Word and build our house (life) upon the rock and no longer build a house-of-cards upon the sand that will topple at the first sign of trouble … causing people to lose a faith they never really embraced in the first place.
It is time to take God and His Word seriously – and to place our opinions and experiences on the back burner – and then turn the heat off under the latter and turn the heat up under the former. Let’s become passionate for God’s Word and show the world what can happen when God’s people actually believe and apply God’s Word!
Ralph is currently overseas ministering in Ukraine. He returns on March 3rd. These daily blogs were written before he left due to his inability to access the internet while away. They are being posted by his personal assistant each day – and he will personally answer all of your responses and entries upon his return to Canada. Enjoy – and if led to please remember to pray for Ralph and his team as they minister three times a day while overseas.