T H E S I S # 34
As loyalty to Christ is evidenced by loyalty to the Bible, so loyalty to evangelicalism is evidenced by loyalty to evangelical traditions. Neither centuries of observance nor endorsement of most validates non-Biblical practices.
Love serves. Obedience authenticates love. Words come easy, but submission is the litmus test.
Praise isn’t a song, but rather compliance. Worship isn’t saying, but doing. Calling Him “Lord” doesn’t make Him Lord.
A faithful husband says, “I love you, wife.” An unfaithful husband says, “I love you, wife.” A wife may not discern her husband’s heart, but Jesus knows all hearts.
If Lord Jesus has been shuffled from first place to second He knows the hour, the minute, the very second that silent betrayal has occurred in one’s treasonous heart. Jesus knows us thoroughly.
Because there are different depths of sincerity, there are different depths of obedience. One doesn’t love much and obey little. One doesn’t love little and obey much. Praise from the obedient is incense to our most precious Redeemer. To the disobedient He says, “Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do the things which I say?”
Jesus knows us, but we know not ourselves. We think we do, but we don’t. “The heart is deceitful above all things.” Not only have we fooled them, we have fooled ourselves. But He knows where our loyalty is set, be it on Him or another.
Love comes by gazing. That which we look upon will eventually capture us. It’s impossible to look upon our Christ without bonding to our Christ. A steadfast gaze will renovate the most crooked heart.
Likewise, gazing upon another will draw us to another. It’s so easy to become distracted by the glamorous and charismatic and esteemed. Man-sanctioned leaders in Christ’s church (some?, many?, most?) actually compete against Jesus for our affection and loyalty. This is not intentional, not even realized. The heart behind the pulpit is no less deceived than the hearts lined up ever-so-orderly in the pews.
The pupliteer who is not a Christ-gazer is a dangerous man. All man-worshippers, all builders, all religiously ambitious christians are dangerous, but the pulpit-man is highly influential. Though armed with a Bible, it is someone or something else he exalts.
It is easier to devote ourselves to those we can see and hear and touch than the One we cannot see and hear and touch. It is more natural to walk by sight than by faith. Because “the heart is deceitful above all things” we can assume Christ has our devotion when He doesn’t. Be He second love or fifth, we convince ourselves He is first.
To know our heart we must test our heart. The litmus tester is the Bible. Our loyalty to “the head of the church” is proved by loyalty to God’s words to us.
Throughout church history The Word has been challenged by other words. There have always been confused and/or debased adders and subtracters and exchangers. Many times their devotees, often humble and dutiful and sincere, have been (and are) numbered in the millions.
With every passing decade the way it is becomes more solidly entrenched. There is something about longevity that elevates credibility. And as the ranks swell credibility further swells. So many can’t be so wrong for so long.
Eventually confidence in the way it is surpasses confidence in the Bible. This is not an uncommon happening, even among evangelicals who do not hesitate to declare the infallibility of Scripture.
Martin Luther confronted an evil system that became an evil system because multitudes, over previous centuries, shirked their duty. Luther wasn’t the first scholar to read, “A man is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ.” Some of those guys knew the Bible much better than we do.
A perusal of church history reveals every generation had an infiltration of misconceptions and outright substitutes of Bible truths. Because those generations failed to stand guard against bogus teachings, downstream believers were also infected.
What will we pass on to those downstream in church history from us? Will we have the conviction to sift the vile from the beautiful, the false from the true, the harmful from the beneficial? Will we, by example, influence our spiritual seed to build on the rock of Christ’s sayings or the sand of tradition?
Someone is keeping a record, and each of us will soon give a public account to Jesus our Christ.