John T. Willis

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Majoring in Minors--Part 2

It is very easy for well-meaning Christian people to focus on a "religious" issue and totally miss the "big picture" of "real life" under God our Father through Jesus Christ our Lord. Jesus and many other biblical speakers and composers emphasize this same problem, because this is an ongoing human problem. In the previous blog, we discussed two issues: wealth and beauty. Let us continue here.

3. Speech.
    a. In every generation, many individuals develop eloquent speech. In doing this, they move and persuade large audiences. This is great IF the speaker is genuine and if the message is God-centered.
    b. Jesus addresses the public practice of prayer in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 6:5-8:
        "And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray
          in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others.
          Truly, I tell you, they have received their reward.
          But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is
                                    in secret;
          and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
          When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do;
          for they think that they will be heard because of their many words.
          Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him."
      c. Proverbs 28:9 contains this warning:
          "When one will not listen to the law,
                even one's prayers are an abomination."
      d. Proverbs 15:8 says:
          "The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord,
                 but the prayer of the upright is his delight."
          Similarly, Proverbs 15:29 says:
          "The Lord is far from the wicked,
                 but he hears the prayer of the righteous."
     e. Obviously, in God's eyes, what counts in prayer is not eloquent words, but genuine hearts, righteous lifestyle, integrity in daily living. Our emphasis must not be on external eloquent speech, but a godly life and a pure heart.

4. Correctly Performed External Isolated Acts of Religion.
     a. It is well-known that the Church of Christ denomination has emphasized the necessity of baptizing adult people by immersion in order to be saved. Without going into a discussion of this affirmation, two important truths stand out.
     b. First, if a person is baptized by immersion, this is at the very least ONLY a TINY aspect of Christian living. To cite just one example, Paul addressed this very issue in 1 Corinthians 1:14-15:
         "I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, so that none can say that
          you were baptized in my name."
         Paul emphasizes that what is important in NOT baptism ONLY, but THE WHOLE GOSPEL. He says in verse 17: "For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to proclaim the gospel, and not with eloquent wisdom, so that the cross of Christ might not be emptied of its power." Many people in Churches of Christ have been baptized by immersion, and their marriages are in shambles, their lives are corrupt, their ways of life are darkness and not light to a gloomy world.
     c. Second, if anyone carefully studies Jesus' Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20, he finds that Jesus calls his followers to "MAKE DISCIPLES" of all nations. Baptism is ONLY the first step of discipleship. What follows baptism is that one must "TEACH all nations to OBEY EVERYTHING that Jesus has commanded." This calls for a lifetime of commitment in heart and life. To submit oneself to go into water and be immersed is very simple. The challenging aspect is to LEARN and to OBEY God through Jesus Christ. 

To be continued

Share YOUR thoughts and shortcomings and reversals and experiences and fears with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis


Post a Comment

<< Home