|Vol. 14 No. 12 December 2012||
Ernest S. Underwood
There is that system known as “the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5).” Of course, this is the Gospel system. Secondly, the apostle Paul emphasized the necessity of one being in this faith. Thirdly, each one has the responsibility of making a self-examination to determine if one is in that system. Although not specifically stated, a fourth item is implied. In order for one to examine himself or herself, there must be an authoritative standard that can be used for such an examination. Without doubt, that standard is the Word of God – the Holy Scriptures.
Through the centuries there have been those who have grown weary of God’s way. As a result, they have attempted to usurp His authority and have rejected that standard. In doing this, they have substituted their own laws, creeds and doctrines. Notice some of their writings on this subject. In speaking of the traditions of a certain church, it is written: “It is, therefore, to be received with the same internal assent as Scripture, for it is the word of God… Tradition would suffice without Scripture…” In the preface of a church manual it is written, “This manual is offered to ______ churches because it is believed that such a book suited to modern church life is needed.” In the so-called scriptures of another religion, a religion founded by a mere man, one reads: “And because my words shall hiss forth, many of the Gentiles shall say: A Bible! A Bible! We have got a Bible, and there cannot be any more Bible… Thou fool, that shall say: A Bible, we have got a Bible, and need no more Bible… Wherefore, because that ye have a Bible ye need not suppose that it contains all of my words; neither need ye suppose that I have not caused more to be written” (2 Nephi 29:3, 6, 10). A certain woman wrote: “God has been graciously preparing me during many years for the reception of this final revelation of the absolute divine Principle of scientific mental healing.”
In each of these writings, we see a total disregard for God’s Word. Compare, if you will, these statements written by uninspired men, with the following inspired passages from God’s Word. Do not be deceived by fancy and colorful advertisements that speak of “another testament.”
2 Timothy 3:16-17: “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
Galatians 1:8-9: “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.”
2 John 9-11: “Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds.”
2 Peter 1:3: “…as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue…”
John 12:48: “He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him; the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day.”
Revelation 22:18-19: “For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.”
This writer has no doubt that each one who reads this article can discern which of the two groups of writings constitute the standard of truth by which we must examine ourselves to see whether we are in the faith or not. We need to examine ourselves, by using the inspired Word of God, in such matters as salvation, which church, worship, etc.
What are you doing here, Elijah? He said, I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away. And he said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the Lord." And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper. (1 Kings 19:9-12)
It started off as a misdialed call and ended with a promise of greater spirituality. A woman, whom I only know now as “Kim,” called my number by accident while trying to get a hold of her neighbor for some reason. After three attempts at dialing the neighbor and getting me instead, I tried to walk her through a series of questions to figure out why she was dialing my number rather than the neighbor. She was surprised by my willingness to help and laugh off the situation. “It is good to hear laughter,” she said. “I haven’t laughed in a while.” I told her that I was a minister and God had richly blessed me, even in life’s difficulties, and had every reason to want to smile and laugh.
As it turns out, my new digital acquaintance was having some of life’s difficulties that, to a great extent, were brought on by some poor choices on her part. She spoke for a few brief moments of how she tried to be spiritual and how she prayed once a day, but really never went to church except to drop her kids off. She revealed that she had three children, was in school and lived in a community that neighbored mine. Conspicuously absent was the mention of a spouse, and based on our conversation, most of her current difficulty revolved around this part of her life.
It was at that point I offered her a bit of advice, after letting her know about our church and when we meet. “You know, the good news of the Gospel is not that you can follow Christ and all will be well. The good news of the Gospel is that you get Jesus and He is all that you will ever need, no matter what life brings. Try giving your life fully to him, and while your circumstance may not change, it will certainly restore your joy and the peace you can find in life.”
For a moment or two the line seemed dead as she collected the thought. Her only reply, however, was to ask for the address where our church met. I gave her the address and chided her slightly, asking, “Don’t you think your children need to see you doing more spiritually than just dropping them off at the door of the church? Don’t you think Christ wants you too? Some may not want you, but He does.”
It was then that she promised to visit and our conversation ended. The reason I tell you all of this is to show the importance of a proper attitude and perspective to the mission of Christ. Truth be told, the last 24 hours have not been the best for me. Two of mine are home sick. Worst of all, my wife is running a very high fever and ended up going to the ER with a 104 temp, which meant a very late night, sitting and waiting and paying in more ways than one. After about three hours sleep, my youngest woke up with stomach issues. Of course, I should mention that this is about the fourth week in a row that I have been taking care of sick folks.
Now, I could have used all of this as an excuse to act in certain undesirable ways, and I will admit, I have. I could have used it as an excuse to blatantly and rudely dismiss the errant caller as “annoying,” telling myself “this is the last thing I need.” Again, I will admit, I was tempted, but look at the opportunity I would have missed. Our conversation took all of 3-5 minutes and seemed to help her in more ways than one. If nothing else, by the time we were done, she had a little taste of joy just knowing someone cared enough to talk with her. Will she visit? Will she change her life and make better choices? I do not know, but seeds were planted that can grow and produce fruit if she lets God in.
In this day, check your attitude at the door. Is it godly in nature and seeking righteous paths? Are we held back by it? Are we missing opportunities because of it? Are we missing out on hearing God’s will for our lives because of the noise of our poor attitudes and woe-is-me mindset? Let it go and let Him live in you so that you may find joy and peace.