Friday, December 14, 2012

Think for Yourself

"The simple believeth every word: but the prudent man looketh well to his going."
Proverbs 14:15

Consider these things:

1. God gave me a conscience, a mind, and the freedom to make choices.
2. God gave me the Bible to show me the Truth, and the Holy Spirit to guide me.
3. God will hold me accountable for my decisions, and He will dispense rewards accordingly.
4. God instructs me in His Word to "study to shew thyself approved unto God...rightly dividing the Word of truth."

Furthermore, God has warned us of the folly of "believing every word."  To the contrary, He commends the man who "looketh well to his going."

When it comes to distinguishing truth from error--right from wrong--there are three common approaches:

1. Think for yourself.
2. Let others do the thinking for you.
3. Don't think at all.

Don't Think At All--

These are the types of people with a happy-go-lucky approach to life.  They are cavalier in their choices.  They don't give much thought to Divine authority, judgment, or consequences.  They don't ponder the ramifications of their decisions; they only do what human impulse leads them to do.  If it feels good, do it.  No worries!  These kind of people certainly don't "look well to their going."

This approach in life will always prove to be difficult at best, and damning at worst.  Proverbs 13:15 teaches us that the "way of transgressors is hard."

If you never take time to ponder, seek after, and discover spiritual Truth, you will find yourself tripping and stumbling through life.  You'll never seem to find the stable ground of peace and contentment.  You be spinning your wheels, trying to attain the promised blessings of life, yet coming up short every time.  You'll face the natural consequences of foolish decisions--consequences, by the way, which will mock your earnest desire for a peaceful life.

Furthermore, apart from a deep, honest, and sober consideration of one's soul, a sinner will find himself hopelessly guilty as he stands before God some day.  He will be held accountable for his sins, and he will have to pay the eternal consequences thereof.  He will have no excuse; for the Word of God and the message of salvation have been made readily available.

What a tragedy it would be for a man to be sentenced to suffer the consequences of divine retribution because he wouldn't take time to think about his soul!

Let Others Think for You--

This is the second approach with regard to determining what is true and right.

"The simple believe every word..."

It's much easier to let others do the thinking for me, and then I just follow their lead.  But this is not the way God wants us to live out our Christian lives.

Cults teach their adherents: "Believe us and follow our teachings...don't listen to anyone else...don't seek the Truth on your own...just do what we say, and you'll be right with God."

How many millions of people around the world have been led astray from the true God and from eternal salvation, because they blindly follow a tradition or religion?!  This is allowing others to think for us.

As Christians we must be students of God's Word.  We must know the Book and live the Book!  And we must let the Bible be our sole authority and guide.

The old adage is true,

"The Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it!"  

Sadly, however, it's often the case that Christians live by this rule,

"The preacher said...and that's settles it."

Don't make the mistake of blindly following, mimicking, or obeying the teachings of men.  Make sure that the decisions you make are Biblically founded and pleasing to God alone.  If you trust someone so much that you'd be willing to let them think for you, to the point that you fail to see any need to think for yourself, you are taking a gamble on life, and you're forfeiting the intellect, resources, and freedom to choose that God has provided.

Think for Yourself--

"...but the prudent man looketh well to his going."

Take a good look at your life.  Evaluate where you are and where you're going.  Then ask yourself, "Am I doing what God wants me to do?"

Everyone is on a path.  There is a path of blessing and a path that leads to regret.

The path of blessing is the path that is led by the Holy Spirit as He guides you in following the instructions of God's Word.  As we obey the Bible and yield to the moving of God's Spirit, the promised blessings become eventual realities.

The path of regret is the path that is led by the inherent foolishness of our sinful hearts.  It is the wide path, largely chosen by the overwhelming majority of humanity.  It is the path--though often popular and promising--that leads to destruction and regret.  This is the path that is apart from God's Word and void of His influence.

Someone once said, "God is my audience."

To that I might add:

God is my Father.
God is my Guide.
God is my Judge.
God is my everything.

Let's make sure that if there's anyone whose word we believe, it's God!

Look well to your going; don't go through life carelessly and ignorantly, and don't depend on others to tell you what to do.  Seek out God through His Word, and do what pleases Him and Him alone.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

You Can't Argue a Changed Life!

"And beholding the man which was healed standing with them, 
they could say nothing against it."
Acts 4:14

In our teen class, we just began a series called, "The Changed Life."

When a person is born again, he a new creature (II Cor. 5:17).  Everything is different!

How he thinks...
How he feels...

Before long, these changes in his thinking and his feelings begin to affect the way he lives out his life.  This is the normal process for a born-again child of God.  It's called spiritual growth.

How important is the changed life?

As a pastor, it's not seldom that I meet people and discuss with them their need for eternal salvation.  Sometimes, people are very receptive and will listen with an open heart.  Sometimes people are "too busy" to listen.

Then there are people who seem as though they have a disdain for anything that has to do with God, the Bible, church, or religion.  They aren't as interested in listening to the Bible's message as they are in telling you why Christianity is a hoax, a cult, or a fable.  These are scorners.  They are enemies of the cross.  They are hostile towards Christ, and they seek to prevent the gospel from spreading.  This is the devious, hindering work of Satan.

Although we can't know all of the reasons why a person would be so venomous towards the gospel, one thing we do know is that there is, there always was, and there always will be great opposition to the work of evangelism.

In chapters 3 and 4 of Acts, there was severe opposition to the work which the apostles' were beginning to accomplish.  Though thousands of people were receiving and believing their message, there were many high-ranking government and religious officials who were trying to put an end to the spread of Christianity.

When considering how we can best influence our world with the good news of salvation, we must learn a lesson from Acts 4:14-16.

We see here the influence of a changed life!

People can say there is no God.  People can say the Bible is a work of fiction.  People can say the church is full of hypocrites.  But no one can argue the reality of a changed life!

When this lame man was made to walk, according to Acts 4:16, it was:

"a notable miracle"
"manifest to all"

When a common, sinful, worldly-minded individual becomes a "new creature" in Christ, it, too, should be:

"a notable miracle"
"manifest to all"

And when such a transformation is observed by others even the enemies of Christ "cannot deny it" (vs. 16).

May we let our light shine by showing that God has changed our lives!  Let's be sure to exemplify Christlikeness in showing love to others, keeping our minds and bodies pure, rejoicing in faith amidst trials and affliction, and giving highest honor to God above all other worldly affections.

Your unsaved friends, co-workers, neighbors, and family, might reject and argue your message...but there's one thing they cannot deny: your changed life!

And truly, a changed life is a "notable miracle," and something that will have lasting influence when it is "manifest to all."