THE SERIOUSNESS OF CHRISTIANITY
When discussing religion with others, how often do you find people dismiss the importance of living a devoted Christian life? In America, a large percentage of our people profess to be "Christians" but the extent of their religious conduct consists of attending "church" once or twice a year, having a Bible on their coffee table and admitting that they believe in Jesus when asked. For too many, when you turn to the Bible to show that they need to devote their lives to serving God they become irritated at you for imposing your beliefs on them. The underlying attitude behind this reaction is a failure to understand the seriousness of Christianity.
BUT, regardless of what public opinion thinks, Christianity IS serious. In this article we want to notice a few things that will show just how serious Christianity really is. And this is something we must understand if we are to live a life that will lead to heaven. The seriousness of Christianity is seen in:
The price that God demanded for forgiveness. Paul told the Romans that, "the wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23). This was reference to the fact that sin separates one from God. It puts the offender in a state of condemnation before Him. In the Bible we find that the ultimate punishment for sin in eternal damnation (Matthew 25:46, Revelation 20:10-15, 21:8). Furthermore, we learn that we all fit in this category as Paul said, "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). But in spite of the wages of sin God provided a way for us to be forgiven, and it was a high price. He demanded that Jesus die on a cross for our sins. Consider Pauls words again as he wrote, "For when we were still without strength in due time, Christ died for the ungodly But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:6-8). What a price! Considering this alone we can see how serious Christianity really is.
The command to put God first. When our sins are forgiven God then DEMANDS that we make Him the priority of our life. From the day we obey the gospel until the day we die, everything we do will revolve around our service to Him. Jesus taught, "Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added to you" (Matthew 6:33). He also taught that we must be willing to forsake the things of this world to put Him first. He instructed His disciples, "He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me" (Matthew 10:37-38). On another occasion He said, "So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple" (Luke 14:33). As you study the New Testament you are continually reminded of this fact. God does not want someone who is not totally committed to Him. On yet another occasion, Jesus in describing the cost of following Him taught, "No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God" (Luke 9:62). That is how serious Christianity is.
The urgency of the gospel. While learning our duties as Christians, we find a sense of urgency toward those who are lost. That urgency is there because everyone who does not obey the gospel will be lost. And all mankind runs with two deadlines that will pronounce the end of opportunity. The Hebrew writer wrote, "And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment" (10:27). This caused Paul to urge Timothy to preach the gospel "in season and out of season" (2 Timothy 4:2). His point was that he preach all the gospel at all times; not just when it is convenient. Why was this so? Because he knew the urgency of preaching gospel while we have opportunity. To the Corinthians he wrote, "Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; " (2 Corinthians 5:9-11). When brethren were persecuted in Jerusalem we are told that, "those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word" (Acts 8:4). Jude exhorted those to whom he wrote, "And on some have compassion, making a distinction, but others save with fear, snatching them out of the fire " (Jude 22-23). The idea of snatching one out of a fire implies urgency. A Christian must understand this, as he does not have time to play around with the souls of others.
The consequences of quitting. We have already seen that Christianity is for life. Numerous passages warn against returning to the world. Peter with strong language said, "For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse from them than the beginning. For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them. But is has happened to them according to the true proverb, A dog returns to his own vomit and, a sow having washed, to her wallowing in the mire" (2 Peter 220-22). Think about how it would be worse to have never known Christianity than to turn from it. The answer is eternal condemnation in hell. You can also study Hebrews 10:26-31; Galatians 5:4; etc. Certainly, Christianity is NOT to be taken lightly.
How we are to restore the erring. This is a result of the last point. When a Christian "falls away", there is a realization that they will be lost if they do not repent. This weighs seriously on our hearts. As Christians, we have the responsibility to restore them. Consider James 5:19-20, "Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins." When a Christian is involved in sin, the very act of discipline shows how serious it is. We are commanded in such cases not to even eat with one who has been withdrawn from (1 Corinthians 5:4-5, 11; 2 John 9-10; Romans 16:17, etc.). Oh what a serious occasion it is when we as the church have to mark someone for sin. AND, in addition to this, there is this warning, "Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted" (Galatians 6:1). In this text, Paul tells us how serious this act is as you have to take caution to make sure that you are not trapped in the sin of your brother.
Thus, we can truly see how serious Christianity really is. In Matthew 22 Jesus told a parable of a wedding feast where a king sent servants to invite his guests to come to the feast. Rather than coming, they "made light of it and went their own ways" (vs. 5). The result was that they were rejected by the king. When the wedding feast took place, men both good and bad from the highways were invited and came to take the place of those who rejected him. But those who "made light" were pronounced "not worthy" (vs. 8). Let us not be guilty of not making Christianity as serious as it ought to be.
Let us clearly understand this: Christianity is NOT for children. This does NOT mean that one needs to be eighteen before they can become Christians. In fact statistics show that when one waits that long, the chances are drastically reduced that he/she will ever obey the gospel. The point is that this is a MATURE decision that will affect the rest of ones life. It demands a mature understanding of salvation and your condition before God. It calls for a real understanding of your commitment to Him. It is a grown-up decision with grown-up consequences. How serious is Christianity to you?
By Tom Thornhill, Jr.
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