Are You “Going On?”

The writer of Hebrews exhorts you to do so. Listen to his words:

Therefore, leaving the elementary message about the Messiah, let us go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, faith in God .  .  . (HCSB Hebrews 6:1)

In making his “Inspired Translation” of the Scriptures (never completed), Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism, got to this verse and, misunderstanding it, inserted the word “not”: [“not leaving . . .” etc]. He, of course, was woefully wrong. The people to whom Hebrews was written were long-time Christians who had become dull, and could not appreciate strong teaching (see Ch. 5). Therefore, the import of this verse is that they needed to go beyond the first teachings of the faith to more meaty material, so that they could grow in the truth. They were still sucking on a bottle of milk (see 5:12-14)! He wanted them to mature.

Today, to the contrary, we are told that to mature in the faith, we must go back to the first principles (elements) of Christianity (“Preach the gospel to yourselves”) and concentrate on them.  This strange idea—so contrary to the true method of growth—is being rapidly adopted by pastors and people who ought to know better. The passage before us today strongly counters it. The trouble with this new view is—because it isn’t biblical, it doesn’t work; people do not grow that way. They grow strong spiritually when they “go on” to the meatier truths of the faith, and then put them to practice in daily living!

Have you discovered that you don’t grow by continuing to drink only milk? Re-read, the book of Hebrews (focusing on chapter 5) and learn differently!

 

Nuanced!

Beware of those who frequently use the word “nuance,” or some derivative thereof.

“Why?”

Because they may be attempting to “snow you” by using that term.

“What does the word mean?”

It comes from a French word that means “shades,” and refers, for instance, to various subtle shades of color.

“I still don’t get it.”

You see, such persons are claiming, “I don’t see things quite as black or white, they way you do. I see various delicate shades of meaning that you don’t,” while all the while the differences are wide enough to drive a Mack truck through.

“Oh!”

And, so what is supposed to be a subtle distinction, quite often, is nothing of the sort—instead, it is a vital difference.

“And this is a way of covering up true differences?”

Exactly. While there are distinctions in the Scriptures, they are rarely (if ever) so subtle as to be called “nuances.” Often, a denial of some biblical truth is behind the use of the term.

“It’s a way of disguising true differences, then?”

Often is. And if you buy into it you will have been NUANCED!

People

Two kinds of people live in this world. Most don’t even know it. The other (smaller) group knows, but often forgets. Yet, the fact is of the greatest importance—for many reasons. Indeed, everything that the one group thinks or does differs from the other group. Beyond the fact that they are both physically alive, they are even different creations!

“That’s nonsense,” you may be tempted to say.

Granted, it is unusual to think or talk in that manner. But it’s true, and I’d like to explain.

In 2 Corinthians 5:17, the apostle Paul wrote

If anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come.

The Christian is a new creation of God. Yes, like all others who are not believers, he too was physically created. But because of what God has done through the saving work of Jesus Christ he has become a new spiritual creation as well. He is a creature who belongs to another world as well as this one, who holds primary allegiance to a King Who rules him from the heavens, and who has new power through His Holy Spirit to live above the sin that once ruled his life.

Now, if you are one of these new creatures of God, you have a responsibility to live according to the new ways you are capable of living. The power and authority of the old ways over you has been broken; you now have new desires and abilities to please God that you did not possess before. Your purposes and your ideals are quite distinct. You have little in common.

The question is, does anyone you know—besides another new creation like yourself—have even the slightest idea that you are what you have become in Christ? People should. Your language, your actions and your decisions made on the basis of all that you have become, ought to be so different, in proper, biblical ways, that he cannot but notice the fact that something about you is radically different. And it is precisely when one notices the difference that you have an opportunity to talk seriously with your unbelieving acquaintance about the way of salvation.

Think about it—you are a different kind of creation; let the world know it by living the life you are capable of living for Jesus Christ.

There’s Always a Way

That’s what people say when they don’t know what it is! Then, they unsuccessfully try this and that to no avail, and finally say, “It’s too much. I can’t handle it.”

The strange thing is — they were right about it at first: there always is a way—God’s way!

That way may not be one to our liking, it may not be one that we find easy, but He has an answer to every problem that a Christian ever faces. That’s what He told us in 1 Corinthians 10:13:

Look it up. You will find three things that He says about tests that come a Christian’s way:

  1. No problem overtakes a believer but what is common to other believers. That is to say, no one’s trial is unique. People are always complaining “Nobody has ever had to face what I’m facing”—or words to that effect. They are wrong. Many have before—and have (by God’s grace) been able to overcome it.
  2. God will not allow a Christian to be tested beyond what he is able to handle (if he handles it God’s way, of course). God promises: though the problem isn’t unique, it is uniquely suited to each individual believer.
  3. God will, with the test, also send the way out in order that one may be able to handle it.

What wonderful promises!

Here it is . . .

You wanted to know how it is that a person can change his lifestyle? The answer is simple:

Anyone can change if he is determined to do so. Some change for health reasons (they may stop smoking). Others change in order to please a certain girl—or fellow—as the case may be (they change their language habits, for instance). And, it is true, that there may be certain temporal benefits to the change. Life may be easier. But if the person isn’t a believer, then his change isn’t pleasing to God (Romans 8:8[1]). And in the long run, it isn’t for the better at all. Even a believer (by ignoring the Spirit) may change in the same way—and not please God (cf. 1 Corinthians 3:1-4, where believers were acting like unbelievers). True biblical change is different.

How so?

When a Christian changes in ways that do please God it is by

  1. Doing so because he wants to obey and honor Him. He seeks to make a certain change because it is God’s will for him to do so—as he finds it in the Bible; by
  2. Doing so by replacing sinful ways with righteous ones (or as the apostle Paul put it: by putting off the former and putting on the latter; Colossians: 3:9); by
  3. Doing these things through seeking the help of the Spirit a) enabling him to understand God’s will in the Word; b) empowering him to make the changes involved (cf. Philippians 2:13).

Thus, in essence, it is change that one makes in consort with God Himself. Thus both the motive and the method are of God as well as of the believer.

[1] To be in the flesh is to be without the Spirit of God.

Paths

Everyone’s on one. That includes YOU. It’s interesting how God describes the pathway of His people:

The path of the righteous[1] is like the light of the dawn , shining brighter and brighter until midday (Prov. 4: 18; HCSB).

It’s a path that runs from sunrise till noon! How descriptive! The longer we walk on it the more clearly we see! The brighter life becomes, the more shining the landscape! What a beautiful description the writer gives us.

Sometime, shadows do obstruct clear sight; often we tire along the way. But the great truth all of God’s true children must admit is brilliantly expressed in these words!

The closer to the end of the journey, the more the way is illuminated. Jesus Christ is the one Who stands at the conclusion of the walk—how could it be otherwise?

 

[1] The righteous are not those who are righteous in themselves, but those who have been declared righteous by faith in the work of Christ on the cross

They Both Boomerang

You know, of course, how a boomerang works—you throw it out, it does its work, and then comes back to you. It was originally used as a weapon; now (in our society) has become a toy.

Listen to what else becomes a boomerang:

A merciful person benefits himself; but the cruel person hurts himself.   Proverbs 11: 17 (CCNT/Proverbs)

What you throw at another returns! Of course, you shouldn’t show mercy in order to receive it. And, you certainly won’t be cruel in order to receive cruel treatment in return! But in God’s order of things, you can look for boomeranging events to happen!

“Why don’t people treat me better?”(you may wonder). How do you treat others? It’s an interesting concept—isn’t it? Think about it and start interpreting your life experiences in relationship to their boomeranging effects.

A Challange for You

what is highly admired by people is revolting in God’s sight (Luke 16: 15 HCSB).

Here’s the challenge—

  1. List as many things as you can that fall into the category of “revolting to God.”
  2. Place a check mark next to all that have a place in your life.
  3. Determine (biblically) what you must do to eliminate them.

Skillful in the Wrong Things!

Things had gotten worse than many realized. But God was about to let them know how bad they really were. He said:

My people are fools. They do not know Me. . . They are skilled in doing what is evil, but they do not know how to do what is good (Jeremiah 4:22, HCSB).

As a result, God was about to send the Babylonians to invade and destroy the land, including Jerusalem and its temple. Then, they would awaken – but too late.

How about God’s church today? Are there fools squabbling over non-essentials, teaching all sorts of heresy, and drifting farther and farther away from the truth? How much evil living is there among those who purport to serve God—but actually do not? Have they become skilled at doing all of the wrong things . . . and have no idea how to do the right ones?

How does one acquire skill? By constant practice. Obviously continuation in the foolish ways in which modern Christians live is just such practice. Search your lives. In what are you skilled—good or evil?

If you are contributing to the breakdown of society by your foolish ways, repent and begin to do those things that please God! That is the skill that you need to acquire. Time may be short before destruction takes place. Don’t wait to begin.

A Level Path

Tough going? The way seems rugged, hilly, twisted and crooked? Well, no matter what the problems are, your Christian walk need not be hindered by it. If you are sinning; if your life is confused, and you don’t know which way to turn next, that need not happen. How do I know that? Because I read these words from in God’s Word:

The path of the righteous is level; You clear a straight path for the righteous.—Isaiah 26:7.

But what does it mean to be righteous? To put the word in simple terms it means to be “right” in God’s sight.

Ah, but how can one be right? First, he must be justified. This takes place by a once-for-all judicial act in which God declares a person “righteous” before Him. But how can that be, since we are all sinners?

A person is justified by faith. Faith in what?

In Jesus Christ. When he hears about the Good News and believes it, it is faith that makes the difference. The good news is that Jesus died, taking the punishment for all those sinners who would believe the good news. The good news (or Gospel) is that Christ died for sinners and rose again from the dead (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:1-2). Believe that He took your punishment for your sin and you will be justified before God.

But it isn’t forensic (declared) righteousness about which the passage is speaking—it is talking to those who have already been justified (declared righteous), who can actually become righteous before God in their daily walk because they are His children, and are doing His will. This righteousness is actual righteousness by which one, through the help of the Holy Spirit, more and more obeys God, day by day becoming more like Jesus.

Live righteously—doing what Christ commanded—and you can expect a level path. That doesn’t mean trouble will be removed, but that, as you face it, God will clear your way through it.