|Volume 18 Number 12 December 2016||
In speaking of the hot weather, we’ve probably all heard someone say that “it’s hot as blue blazes!” That term came from blacksmithing where the blacksmith got the forge extremely hot to work with his material to accomplish the desired result. The extreme heat enabled him to work with the iron to shape it into what he wanted it to be.
Usually in today’s world, when we hear that exclamation, we assume people are speaking of the weather. We’ve almost been to that extreme the latter part of this week as we’ve experienced very hot temperatures with heavy moisture in the air, which makes it seem even hotter. To state it simply, it’s almost “too hot to breathe!”
You know as I was thinking of this, it made me want to tell folks “you ain’t seen nothin’ yet!” Strangely enough, when I tried to Google “ain’t” to check for correct spelling, the word was not in the file, so it is not accepted as an appropriate word. I’m quite sure that at some time every one of us has said “ain’t,” but perhaps not in this context.
For those folks who don’t believe and obey the Word of God, they “ain’t seen nothin’ yet.” Of course, there are those folks who have died without ever having heard the Word. That becomes a problem for Christians to whom Jesus said “go and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost; teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:20). This commandment was given to the remaining 11 apostles after Judas betrayed our Lord. Those apostles were chosen and set aside to do the first evangelistic teaching of Jesus and the spreading of the Gospel. We know that Christians still have the responsibility of spreading the Gospel for Paul directed the Roman brethren: “How shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?” (Romans 10:14). So few of us have the ability to be missionaries who teach the Gospel around the world, but we do have the responsibility to finance those who are able and willing to do the job. We can contribute to the cause of spreading the Gospel worldwide.
More importantly to each of us individually, we have the responsibility of teaching the Gospel here at home. There are so many ways this can be done. We can invite others to come to Bible study and worship services with us because the Word is taught there. Some can be drawn to the Gospel by observing what the Lord’s church is doing to reach out to teach and to help others. We can conduct our own Bible study classes, although I can tell you from experience that it is becoming more difficult all the time because folks are not willing to participate in such studies. It seems there are too many “worldly” activities to absorb the time and attention of folks.
There are many ways of reaching out to others with the Gospel, and we all have done or know some of the ways. However, there is one way that Christians can deliver the power of the Gospel every day! It is the responsibility of each individual Christian to live a positive life that will cause others to “see your good works and glorify your Father Who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). Just as Jesus, we “must be about the Father’s business” (Luke 2:49) – not just occasionally, but always doing good. The most powerful influence in spreading the Gospel is for others to see Jesus living is us. That is an evangelistic means by which each of us can teach others. Not only will others be aware when they see Jesus living in us, but it will give us “eternal life with the Father” (1 John 1:2). By letting Christ reign in our mortal bodies, we can possibly save a “sinner from the error of his way, save a soul from death and hide a multitude of sins” (James 5:20). We and others must always do what our Lord has taught in order to avoid the “blue blazes” of an eternal hell, which is a place where none desire to be.
It is with amazement that some might call arrogance with which this author views many naïve, misdirected calls to “do the loving thing” in religious matters. Call it what opponents may, any “loving thing” needs biblical definition.
Consider examples of misguided pleas:
(1) If men differ on how to be saved, “do the loving thing” and do not challenge views. Let all believe what they will, and let God sort it out in the end. This is what some say and believe. It is misguided.
(2) If people are engaged in what one sees as sin, but they seem happy, “the loving thing” is to just live and let live. They’ll answer to God for it, and no one on earth is their judge. This, too, is misguided.
Consider, now, biblical responses:
(1) If the Bible speaks on the plan of salvation, students of the Bible have the responsibility to rightly understand it (2 Timothy 2:15) and teach it (2 Timothy 2:2). The loving thing is to gently and to humbly (2 Timothy 2:24-25) confront error in the hopes that truth will be understood and heeded (John 8:32; 1 Timothy 2:4). This is what leads to salvation.
(2) Then, if brethren are engaged in sin, other brethren are not justified in just leaving them alone. Rather, there is an obligation: “Brethren, if any man is overtaken in a trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:1-2). They are to be confronted with compassion. Letting one live in sin is the easy road to take. Confrontation is usually uncomfortable. Yet, the lack of that confrontation about sin just contributes to the unraveling of the situation (James 1:14-15), which will ultimately cause someone to lose his or her soul.
Granted, the truly loving thing will cause some objectors to judge the truth-teacher as being too judgmental (ironic, isn’t it?). Paul sharply rebuked the Galatian church and fell quickly from the status of hero to the unenviable position of enemy (Galatians 4:14-16). However, Paul was never one to seek popularity. Instead, “knowing the terror of the Lord,” he “persuade[d] men” (2 Corinthians 5:11).
Oh, that men would understand that “the loving thing” is not always the most well-received. Paul did not enjoy making the Corinthians sorry with a letter, but he was glad at the result it brought:
For even if I made you sorry with my letter, I do not regret it; though I did regret it. For I perceive that the same epistle made you sorry, though only for a while. Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner… (2 Corinthians 7:10)
Godly sorrow inspired by truth-teaching lasts briefly, but the salvation to which it leads is eternal. The goodness of God is in His teaching, even if it makes someone uncomfortable. After all, this goodness was not designed for men’s applause but to lead men to repentance (Romans 2:4).