Christianity — A Way Of Life; Not An Empty Belief
"I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called," Ephesians 4:1.
"Only let your manner of life ( conversation) be worthy of the gospel of Christ...." Philippians 1:27 ASV.
If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain. Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world," James 1:26-27.
"Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is... " Hebrews 10:25.
Jesus invited "whosoever will" (Rev. 22:17) to accept him and become a child of God ( John 1:12-14) and thus "heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ" (Rom. 8:17) to the "exceeding great and precious promises" (II Peter 1:4) which are an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven...." (I Peter 1:4). But he did not deceive anyone into thinking that obtaining these promises would be so easy as not to require any effort.
Jesus said unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me" (Matthew 16: 24). He warned that "ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake...." (Matthew 10:22) because " .... the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not" (I John 3:1). "He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not. (John 1:10-11). The inheritance is for those who "are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time" ( I Peter 1:5), who "suffer with him" ( Romans 8:17), who sacrifice themselves for his sake (Romans 12:1).
Many call themselves Christians because they believe in God and Jesus; the latter some believe to be the Christ while others say that he was merely a great philosopher. We do not regard belief lightly for we know that it is a work of God ( John 6:29) and it is commanded for salvation (Mark 16:15-16, Acts 16:30-31). No one can please God who does not believe in him (Heb. 11:6). But consider the faith of many today. Their faith says that "I believe in God's existence," but either openly or secretly they are skeptical about the creation, the flood, the exodus, the birth of Jesus and his miracles. What kind of God do they believe in? Certainly their god cannot save eternally if he cannot even control this natural world! We must believe in God as he is described in the Bible or else our faith is vain. "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" ( Romans 10:17). Faith in our individual concept of a god is not the "saving faith," The true God of the Bible is all-knowing, all-powerful, and ever-present.
God created man and provided for his needs. He gave him a law which man broke and brought sin into his world. In so doing man departed from God. This simple story repeats itself throughout history, but "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16). This is an immeasurable love, a love which cannot be understood but it does exist. It is not love as many think of Christian love. The concept of Christian love, as many have it, is looking on the widows and orphans and others in need and experiencing some emotion within but does not reach out to help. Many believe that they have Christian love when they feel sorry for those living in sin and tearfully but quietly wish they would obey the gospel and be saved. We know God's power to save is in the gospel of Christ but we do not extend it to those who need it in love for their souls. Thus the love many Christians have is degraded to mere pity.
God did not pity the world but rather he "commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Rom. 5:8). Our God is a gracious God who by his grace made provisions for our salvation. His grace reaches down to man and we see it in his Son who died for us and in his Word which is our guide. "That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus" ( Ephesians 2:7) "In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace" ( Ephesians 1:7). "I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you inheritance among all them which are sanctified" (Acts 20:32). "According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue" ( II Peter 1:3).
Man's answer to God's grace is too often an empty belief. We see God's grace, but does he see our faith? Our faith must be shown in our lives or else it is no good. It is often like a man who sees another in destitute circumstances, hungry or without proper clothing, and so he pities him and says "Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled" but does not reach out to help. "Even so faith, if it hath not works is dead, being alone" (James 2:14-17). It is often like a Christian beholding a sinner in a lost condition and saying "learn the truth and be saved" or "Christ is the answer" but not making the effort to teach him the truth which is able to save his soul. We saw Abraham's faith in his life (Hebrews 11:8,17), and the faith of Noah as he built the ark and preached to the lost (Hebrews 11:7), we saw the faith of Moses when he left the pleasures of sin to endure affliction with the people of God (Hebrews 11:24-25). But faith is hard to see in many today.
To live Christianity is not impossible but it is difficult. The life is full of sacrifice and discouragement, but as Paul said, "For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us" (Romans 8:18). Christians who try can be assured of help. "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." (Matthew 11:28-30). Christ can understand our weaknesses and can help if we reach for him in unwavering faith, because he lived and was tempted in all points like as we are (Hebrews 4:15).
The rewards of living Christianity outweigh the sufferings both in this life and certainly in the life to come, for young and old alike. I, along with millions more, heartily recommend this life to you.
Mike Creel, Rt 1 - Box 268-C, Auburn, Alabama 36830