Contending for the faith | Making Disciples | Equipping the Saints for Ministry

by Jeannette Haley

  We all take many things in our lives for granted. For example, most of us have plans for tomorrow, and probably for the rest of the week, and maybe even for months or years in advance. We simply assume that we are going to be here, and that our lives will orderly proceed according to our well-laid plans. We don’t want to think, even for a moment, that our lives could be interrupted or detoured by illness, financial disaster or worse.

We can and do take people for granted, and assume that they will somehow always be in our world. But, life has a way of intruding into our dreamy assumptions through separation caused by conflict, betrayal, different rates of spiritual growth or changing interests, geographical moves, illness, and death, to name a few.

As Americans, we all, to a greater or lesser degree, take our freedoms for granted, even though 9-11 was a major wake-up call. How many of us get up each morning and thank God for one more day of freedom, knowing that the evil destruction determined against America, and all other nations who refuse to fully surrender to evil men’s demands, will never give up?

It’s so easy to take for granted that the shelves in the grocery stores will always be fully stocked, that the water will continue to flow into our homes, that electricity will always be available, that there will be fuel for vehicles, and that there will be services available in case of emergency. The list is endless, but the point is, we all take things for granted.

All of these things will eventually pass away, but God’s Word will never pass away. (See Matthew 24:35.) However, the sad truth is that most people who name the name of Christ are unfamiliar with the Word of God, and have never read the Bible through even once, rendering them unable to give a strong defense of what they believe and why they believe it. Such people will, however, maintain that they believe the Bible from cover to cover, but the truth is the Word of God is taken for granted by multitudes of people who profess to be Christians.

The dangers involved in taking God’s Word for granted are profound, and amount to nothing less than negligence of one’s salvation. (See Hebrews 2:3.) (When I say “Word” I mean the KJV. A good book to read is Let’s Weigh The Evidence by Barry Burton or Gail Riplinger’s new book, Which Bible Is God’s Word? which contains answers to common questions concerning modern versions and translations.) People have all kinds of excuses for ignoring the Word of God, from not having enough time, dislike of reading, inability to understand it, to dependency upon “Christian” television, radio or the church they may attend; in other words, letting somebody else do their thinking for them. Whatever the excuse is, it will not hold up under the scrutiny of the Judge of the whole earth on that Great Day. Every person will be judged by the Word. (See John 12:48.) Knowing this, then, the question is, why do professing believers neglect time in the Word for vain pursuits?

Excuses such as the ones listed in the previous paragraph are merely symptoms to an underlying problem. Excuses are nothing more than smokescreens, designed to put people off and give the excuser something to hide behind. Of course, the person who is the most deceived is the one with the smokescreen. Self-deception is the worst form of darkness because the person has made a decision to reject the truth. Truth always challenges a person’s pride and perspective.  Therefore, the decision to ignore, reject or neglect the truth opens the door for Satan to come in with greater deception. After all, the Word of God sheds light on our sins of commission as well as omission—those sins that cause us to fall short of God’s glory. The light of the Word exposes the evil workings of Satan. When we are self-deluded, how can we be anything but blind to Satan’s devices? Jesus told Satan this: “It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” Matthew 4:4. The result of taking God’s Word for granted is to choose death.

Then again, if a person refuses to be accountable for his or her attitudes and actions, he or she will automatically steer clear of Bible reading and study, for God’s Word is “quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” Hebrews 4:12. It is so much easier on the flesh to take one’s salvation for granted when it is based on cutsie religious ditties from off of the Internet, or on “Christian” romance novels, or popular movements within the church system, or on one’s own conclusions, based on his or her intellectual reasoning or feelings.

The frightening thing is that so many people take it for granted that when they die, they will go to heaven, just because at some point in their life they followed along in a “sinner’s prayer” or they confessed that they believe in “the good book” or they go to church, or that they believe there is a “higher power.” The tragedy is, none of these things constitutes true salvation. Jesus said: “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into thekingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again” John 3:5-7. Being born “of water” refers to the Word of God which is the “washing of regeneration” Titus 3:5. Ephesians 5:26 tells us this concerning the Church: “That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word.” [Emphasis mine.]

Only a person who is born again of the Spirit can walk in obedience to Jesus’ commands, and only by a careful study and meditation upon the Scriptures can a person understand just what those commands are. For example, carefully read Jesus’ words in John 15:1-10: “I AM the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit, he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches. He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.” [Emphasis mine.]

To live a victorious life in Christ and to walk after the Spirit, and not the flesh, a Christian must know the Word of God and the God of the Word. The purpose of the Word of God is to reveal the Author, but how many read the Bible out of a sense of duty, or to stuff facts and figures into their head? How many read it to soak up history, or to develop a philosophical view of life, or to appear to be religious? The only way that the Word of God will become real and living to a person is if he or she approaches it in simplicity and purity of heart, in order to discover the Person of Jesus Christ, and to learn God’s ways. The Bible is a closed book to all who look into it with any other desire than to do business with God. But, for the one who comes with a hungry and thirsty heart to know God for the purpose of coming into agreement with Him through humble submission, repentance, obedience, adoration, and worship, the Word becomes milk and meat to nourish both soul and spirit.

The Word of God clearly lays out the conditions that must be met if we are to belong to Christ. Jesus warned the Jews, “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed: And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” As Rayola recently brought up in one of her sermons, we Christians love to quote “the truth shall make you free,” while omitting the previous verse with its condition of continuing in His Word. “Continuing” is an action word that implies diligence, carefulness, watchfulness, activity, motion, awareness, and progression. Nowhere does the Bible encourage complacency, stagnation or negligence when it comes to seeking God, knowing God, obedience to God, love for God, or worship to God, all of which are components in our salvation. The writer to the Hebrews summed it up this way: How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him” Hebrews 2:3. Jesus called those who hear His words and obey them not “foolish.” (See Matthew 7:26.) James wrote this powerful verse that sums up the sin of omission for the Christian in James 4:27, “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.”

The truth of the matter is, if we take the Word of God for granted, we are neglecting our salvation because we are deliberately choosing to remain ignorant of what God expects of us. This negligence smacks of pride and rebellion, which is the result of unbelief. Unbelief, being the opposite of faith, will keep us out of heaven, bottom line. “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” Hebrews 11:6.

Unbelief is fueled by fear—the kind of fear that is only cast out by perfect love. “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love” 1 John 4:18. The question is, how can we love and trust someone (God) if we don’t know Him? The answer is found in Romans 10:27: “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”

Jesus told the religious leaders of His day, “He that is of God heareth God’s words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God” John 8:47. In order to hear God’s words, we must have “ears to hear.” That is, we must yearn for the pure, unadulterated Word of God (and make sure that it is preached in the Church). The person who truly loves Jesus, who is the “way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6), will be spiritually sharp and possess keen discernment. After all, a person’s very life, here and for eternity, depends upon it.