THE GOSPEL: Part 2 – Living Biblically

This is the second part in the gospel series I wrote for our bible study group and I feel like this one was as much for me as it was for anyone else and I write it with the greatest of care and reverence every bit as convicted about it for myself to live biblically… Hope you are encouraged!

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We learn the lingo and so easily can act the part of “christian” – it’s an easy charade  – but if our heart isn’t lined up… That’s hypocrisy! The parts in scripture that we see Jesus get angry is in response to religious hypocrites. He called them a generation of vipers! He had some really harsh words for them… Especially for false teachers – which is one of the reasons why I take so seriously sound doctrine and try my best to do my research on things – especially any preacher or book I’m listening to… and covet the input of others in the faith to hold me accountable…

With that said – Take ownership of your walk with God… don’t count on the church, or bible studies to feed you… it is YOUR relationship with God. Don’t get lazy. The whole point of the cross wasn’t to get you to heaven!!! Understand that. If it was – the moment you get saved God would take you right then and there! The point of salvation is so that you can enjoy RELATIONSHIP with God NOW and into eternity.

“The whole bible is the working out of the relationship between God and man. God is not a dictator barking out orders and demanding silent obedience. Were it so, there would be no relationship at all. No real relationship goes just one way. There are always two active parties. We must have reverence and awe for God, and honor for the chain of tradition. But that doesn’t mean we can’t use new information to help us read the holy texts in new ways. ”

― A.J. Jacobs, The Year of Living Biblically: One Man’s Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible

 

Your Bible – Read dat werd yo!

So how do you get into a relationship? You get to know the person – how? through their words… you talk to them, spend time with them, do things together… so… Read your bible. Think of it as God’s 66 book love letter to you! If you want to live biblically – guess what – you’re gonna have to read your bible!!! DUH. And pray – because the conversation goes both ways… to do one and not the other is to have a one sided conversation…

The more I read the bible – the more radically different I see it being… that the lives of the people in this book were so drastically different!! And are we taking our culture, our comfortable western lives and trying to marginalize this faith? To fit it into our context? To define our faith by our culture, our society, our peers, what everyone else is doing, what’s considered norms… rather than what the bible actually says?? Do we try to reason ourselves into thinking – oh no – it can’t mean that… let’s just fluff it up and make it more politically correct…. more palatable. So that it ruffles no feathers. It doesn’t make our pew warmers uncomfortable in any way cuz we’re afraid they’ll stop coming… let’s just keep them entertained, come up with clever one liners, funny illustrations and skits, but don’t talk at all about subjects to make anyone feel convicted. No talk of repentance, no rebuke, no conviction – and in so – we strip the Word of it’s power!

Newsflash – the bible is going to be controversial, it’s going to offend some. Because it confronts us with our own sin and wretchedness. It uses very strong language to show contempt for contemptible things. It harshly rebukes and chastens. Careful not to fit the bible to what you think it should say, to end up creating for yourself a god in your own image by twisting and stripping the scriptures. Read them as they are, and take in what they have to say… and see if you won’t realize your life needs to be radically different.

 

Faith – We need dat fo rizzle!

If you were to take your life story as a Christian – and write it into the bible… Next to Paul, John, Stephen and others… Would your life fit in?? I know mine doesn’t. Yet somehow well meaning people want to pat you on the back and tell you it’s ok – you’re doing good enough. Perhaps to make themselves feel ok for living a ‘moderate’ Christian life. We are challenged soooo often – to NOT live biblically. Our culture doesn’t like it. Our peers don’t like it. If after reading about Paul in prison, and the disciples beaten brutally for preaching their faith, and martyred… then you hear your story – oh there was once this Trinidadian guy who came to Canada for a good job and went to church and really sung hard once at a worship service and even raised his hands. WHAT??? Would u go – wow!?! That guy is amazing!! He’s so radical! …. Or… why is he in there? Look at the kind of faith you see in the bible – and is that the kind of faith you live?

As a child I took what I heard and learnt so literally – and after hearing that if you have faith you could move a mountain – I’d go around trying to move stuff… It’s funny that I heard Francis Chan also say he tried this in one of his sermons – so I was glad I wasn’t alone in my craziness! …now that was obviously misplaced… but what if we got back to that child-like faith? Of taking God at His word… how ‘crazy’ would our lives look? Or perhaps – how closer to normal?

 

All things loss – Oh snap!

We are supposed to consider all things loss… do we really? If for a moment we supposed – IF – Christianity was to be wrong… and you were to die… would your life be a total waste!?? Are you living in such a way that ALL your hope – your EVERYTHING is put in this faith – so that IF (by some way) it were to be wrong – that you would have wasted your whole life??? This may sound radical – but is it really?? Cuz we say we know our faith and hope is real – but are our lives being lived in light of that reality? As Christians we tend to sing our lies… we sing songs – Take all of me – All my hope is in You – You are my all in all…

Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:19 – “And if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world.” Why? Because a life lived totally sold out to Christ would have been wasted, as we would have bet it all on a lie – forfeiting this world’s pleasures for the illusion of an afterlife that would be our reward…

If we really believe in Hell – the reality that the people around us that we SAY we love might be going there… are we really living that?? Shouldn’t we be crying out and praying over them and their salvation? Looking for EVERY opportunity to reach them??

How are we living by faith and not by sight?? Is there any risk in what you’re doing??? It takes no faith for us to stay amounst people who agree with us! It takes no faith to go to church! No faith to hang out only with Christians who want to talk about the things you want to talk about. Who have to accept you and show you love. If a Sunday experience and the sporadic bible study or church event is the extent of your Christian walk – guess what – you’re walking by sight and not by faith.

 

So what does living biblically look like??

“It is easier to act yourself into a new way of thinking, than it is to think yourself into a new way of acting.”
― A.J. Jacobs

Get yo Spirit walk on!

Sin – are you trying and trying over and over… do your prayers always start the same way? – God I’m so sorry – I don’t wanna do that again – and then you fall back into it again and again? That is a pattern!

Part of it begins in a change in lifestyle patterns… Romans says, “Do not be conformed to the PATTERN of this world – but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…” Galatians talks about living in the Spirit and we won’t gratify the flesh… but what does that mean??? We often hear these verses so much in “christianese” that they loose all meaning… How do I practically renew my mind and walk in the Spirit?

Here’s what it means simply: Every minute of every day ask – God – what would you do with me right now if you had full control in this moment?

THAT is walking in the Spirit. I guarantee you – if that is what is constantly on your mind – you’re gonna have a hard time sinning. If you are obsessed with worshiping God in every waking second… with a song in your heart and praise on your lips throughout the day… in every spare minute whipping out your bible app and taking daily bread snack breaks… constantly checking in with God, what He wants to do with you in every moment… this is what is meant by praying without ceasing. It is a habit you have to build – and something I have found to bring me such victory over sin like I have never known before! But it takes some practice, and you’re going to feel a little crazy when you start – but as you continue – it becomes natural… and you just constantly will have a running conversation with the Almighty Father.

When you act on those things that God tells you to do in those moments throughout the day – When you are doing things that you NEED God to come through for you – those are the times you’re going to live by the Spirit and really experience God. Not when you’re living in a comfortable way that requires no faith. Just being a good person… just not drinking… such a soft christian stand! (Not downplaying that as a genuine struggle for some – but for a lot – that’s so SAFE.)

 

Comfort Zone – pelt outta dere boi!

Jesus said – He’ll be with us always… but what context is that in??? That comes right after the great commission – as we’re going out and making disciples… THEN He is with us – as we NEED Him to come through! (Matthew 28:18-20)

The Holy Spirit was given why???….. – to be witnesses!! – Luke 12 – when we’re put before authorities – AT THAT MOMENT he comes through to give us the words… but we’re first to step out in faith, and sometimes it will be scary – but it is with the assurance that God will have our backs.

Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help. “THEN your salvation will come like the dawn, and your wounds will quickly heal. Your godliness will lead you forward, and the glory of the Lord will protect you from behind. THEN when you call, the Lord will answer. ‘Yes, I am here,’ he will quickly reply. – Isaiah 58:7-9

The initiative to act is ours and THEN God has our backs, THEN we experience His protection and provision, THEN He answers quickly when we call.

Why is it that sometimes we limit our experience of the Holy Spirit to some musical session or concert in a church? When the music is just right, the seats are just comfortable enough, the band is playing well, the lights are cool… then we’re like – oh – I think I felt Him cuz I got some goosebumps… Ya – don’t get me wrong – I like the goosebumps experiences as much as the other guy – but really we will experience the fullness of Him when we’re in situations way over our heads!!! The Holy Spirit is called the great comforter – but why would we need a comforter if our lives are already so comfortable!?!?!?

“Jesus Christ lived in the midst of his enemies. At the end all his disciples deserted him. On the Cross he was utterly alone, surrounded by evildoers and mockers. For this cause he had come, to bring peace to the enemies of God. So the Christian, too, belongs not in the seclusion of a cloistered life but in the thick of foes. There is his commission, his work. ‘The kingdom is to be in the midst of your enemies. And he who will not suffer this does not want to be of the Kingdom of Christ; he wants to be among friends, to sit among roses and lilies, not with the bad people but the devout people. O you blasphemers and betrayers of Christ! If Christ had done what you are doing who would ever have been spared’ (Luther).Dietrich Bonhoeffer

How comfortable have we become – that we have to create all these programs in church because people are not willing to step out of their comfort zones to make disciples?? Do you realize that was a COMMAND!?! Breaking a command of God is SIN. Ask yourself – when is the last time I shared the gospel in its fullness with someone who hasn’t heard it? Is our goal just to make church cool to get them in church for an hour and we fool ourselves to think we’re doing something good? That they are happily entertained and never convicted and go to hell laughing all the way!?

 

Stagnant water and spiritually obese… ewwww

Water – it is life. But when water just keeps collecting somewhere and becomes stagnant – it becomes toxic. The only way it remains life giving – is if it is flowing… that is why the scriptures say – STREAMS OF LIVING water will flow out of you! You were not meant to be stagnant!!! It’s toxic!

Some of us have been Christians for a while – we know how to study the word, we  have a hunger for it – we seek out sermons online, read books, have our devotions – we’re feeding ourselves our daily bread and this is good! But some of us that’s about where it stops… there’s no outflow, we just keep feeding – there’s no exercise of faith. And as a result we become spiritually obese – and in some ways just as useless as the ‘nominal’ Christian. We have to exercise our spiritual muscles… running the race… lifting up in prayer… stepping out in faith… it’s an active lifestyle! Don’t be a fatty… get out there and exercise!

We think to ourselves – oh I’m not called to be an evangelist – so I’ll just leave it to those with that calling or gift… but do you realize that there are people in your circles that ONLY you can reach and influence? Because part of it is building a relationship – people don’t respect your view until they feel valued and respected… they aren’t going to listen to some random evangelist! The most effective evangelism is going to be in relationship. In sitting down with people – hearing their views – working through it with them, showing them through your supernaturally empowered life something they are missing out on… but how will they even get to that point if there’s nothing different about your life?

The cross showed us that God’s love isn’t just sentimental and feels – but it DOES something. The cross, the gospel therefore demands something of us… With Isaac Watts we can sing that “Love so amazing, so divine – demands my soul, my life, my all.”

Here’s the point of all this: LIVING BIBLICALLY IS THE GOSPEL! Lived out habitually through our active love, deeds and words as an expression of our love relationship with Christ.

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