Article IV, part 3

Truth or Dare (Article 4)

In part one, of article four, we discussed the basic belief systems of the three biggest religious groups in the world today: Hinduism, Islam, and Christianity. In part two, we discussed how Christianity, based on Christ’s claim of deity, is the one true way for humanity to connect with God. church front collage In this post, we will explore the issue most people have with accepting Christianity as God’s truth, and that is the Christians, themselves.

Many people have said, in one way or another, “If Jesus is God’s son, and if all His teachings concerning salvation and eternal life are true, then why do so many Christians behave in contrast to His teachings? Why are Christians such hypocrites?” It can be explained in this one statement:

Christians are not perfect, they’re just forgiven.

Being a Christian, as stated earlier, means that you live by the teachings of Christ. What so many outside of the faith don’t understand, and this truth eludes many who claim to be Christians, is that perfection belongs to Christ; perfection does not belong to us. That is the very reason Jesus came to live, die, and return from the grave — we weren’t perfect and never could be, but God’s son is perfect. Christ paid our debt on the cross, because he loved us and could afford to pay it (Romans 3:21-26). Death to Him was physically and emotionally painful, as Jesus experienced separation from God the Father on the cross and as He experienced His Father’s wrath in the grave, but Christ knew He could endure it.

Again, let’s recall the Scripture passage from Romans, chapter three, verses twenty-two through twenty-four: “This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” We (mankind) are all not perfect, but because of Christ’s perfection, and His graciousness, we can obtain perfection through Him. We have access to His perfection. That’s not to say that we will be perfect while living under the sun, but if we place our faith and trust in Jesus — if we daily choose Christ’s way over our way (Luke 9:23-24; Romans 6:11; Galatians 2:20) — then we can be transformed into the likeness of Christ and upon entering our heavenly destination we will be able to live perfectly under God’s son (Romans 12:1-2; Galatians 5:24).

Even though the Bible teaches us that we are a “new creation,” once we give our lives over to following the statutes of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17), we must also remember that this new life is not an instant transformation. Our salvation is immediate, but this “new creation” that has entered into our lives is an re-birthing of our old, sinful spirit (John 3:3; 1 Peter 1:23). Just as a baby must be nurtured, taught, and raised to know how to properly act, function, and live, so too do reborn spirits have to be taught in the ways of Christ (1 Peter 2:2). Christians do not become perfect at their salvation, but at their journey’s end.

There is a popular allegory, known as The Pilgrim’s Progress, that aptly depicts the life of a Christian as a journey. This book, written by John Bunyan and published in 1678, is considered one of the most important works of religious English literature. Its importance and popularity has brought about its being translated into more than two-hundred languages.

The Pilgrim’s Progress is the story of a man, named Christian, who is living in a town called “City of Destruction.” Pilgrim's Progress 1 Christian is a man desiring to live in a far off place known as “Celestial City,” but the journey to “Celestial City” is a long and hard one. For example, one of his hardships is a “great burden” that Christian must carry with him along his way. There are also many people along this journey that wish to divert Christian from his goal. At one point, a dragon named Apollyon tries to kill Christian. However, there are also those who help Christian to find comfort and strength too, from time-to-time.

Faithful, who is also a former resident of “City of Destruction,” travels alongside Christian, for a time, helping him until his death. Then Hopeful joins Christian, as does a boy named Ignorance. It’s with good deeds and kindness that Ignorance thinks he can enter into “Celestial City,” but upon reaching the gate he realizes that he cannot because, despite his good works, he has no passport. Ignorance is then quickly banished to Tophet, by the Lord of the city.

Christian, after receiving help from Hopeful, makes it across the “River of Death” and gets to enter into “Celestial City,” upon showing the Lord of the city his passport. Where did Christian receive this passport, and why was Ignorance not able to obtain one? Unlike Ignorance, Christian had earlier taken the “King’s Highway.” This highway was a small path, less traveled, that meandered through many tough obstacles, but ultimately brought Christian to a cross. It is at this cross, that Christian is relieved of his “great burden” and given his passport into “Celestial City.” Had Ignorance left the main road, and followed Hopeful and Christian along the small path to the cross, he too could have obtained his passport to “Celestial City.”

You see, Christianity is not about mystical, magical transformations. It’s not about achieving a perfect life that realizes its connection to a “Universal Spirit” by detaching itself from worldly desires. It’s not a life committed to accomplishing a greater struggle, which ultimately leads us to living a godly life. No. Christianity is the surrendering of our imperfections to Christ. It’s Jesus who willingly takes our flaws upon the cross and covers over them with His perfect blood. By doing so, God no longer sees us as filthy, dirty wretches awaiting damnation, but sees us through Christ’s holy eyes as pure, clean children clothed in His son’s perfect glory, and adopted into His family for all of eternity (Ephesians 1:4-6; 1 Peter 2:4-6).

Yes, for the world to judge Christianity by it’s carnal members is to see all that is ugly in this physical life. Many Christians struggle to totally let go of their sinfulness and allow God to make them into the true worshiper that He intends them to be. This fighting with God only slows the growth of the reborn spirit and allows Satan the opportunity to attack and distract the rebellious Christian from reaching their divine purpose (1 Corinthians 3:1-3; Hebrews 5:11-14). So what the world sees from the carnal Christian is not Christ’s reflection, but the agitated filth that is being forced away from the spirit. Much like cleaning dirty laundry. Dirty laundry appears more soiled when water meets the filth and creates mud, so too does sin look worse to other sinners as Christ’s blood begins to remove and clean away our sinfulness (Isaiah 64:6).

There are also charlatans that exist in Christianity who, like Ignorance in The Pilgrim’s Progress, latch onto doing good works in the name of Jesus (Legalists), or they use the Gospel message to gain monetary wealth (Prosperity Evangelists). They don’t see Christianity as anything more than a religious endeavor; a means to an end. They think their legalistic actions, their “acts of kindness” will give them prestige, honor, and physical wealth, but God still sees their imperfections and judges them. Not because He is a mean and hateful God, but because (as explained earlier) He is perfect and cannot abide where imperfection exists. Again, this is the reason for Christ’s sacrifice.

Time-and-again, true worshipers and the world will see many forms of carnality and immaturity from many who claim to be Christian. In American churches we see nearly half of all marriages ending in divorce. We also, see many young people, under the age of thirty, choosing to be sexually active outside of the marriage relationship. On-line pornography is becoming a very common problem for ministers, and destroys seventy-five percent of clerics lives. The Christian churches are becoming more acceptant of homosexuality, bisexuality, and many Christian teachers are incorporating eastern religious philosophies into their teachings. The Christian church, no matter what denomination it may be, will not be affective in transforming lives for Christ if it continues to abandon the truths of Christ (Romans 6:1-3, 12-14; 1 Peter 2:9-12; Revelation 3:14-19). You can remove the many avatars of Brahman and still follow Hinduism. You can remove the prophet Muhammad from the teachings of Allah and still follow Islam, but you cannot remove Christ from His teachings and still follow Christianity. It simply can’t be done; it will no longer be Christianity.

The Apostle Paul saw early on how Christians would be a detraction from the truths of Christ if they didn’t live as the true worshipers they are purposed to be, and he gave this stern admonishment in the second chapter of Romans, verse twenty-four: “As it is written: ‘God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.’” Christians, though called by Christ to be salt and light to a world that is deteriorating into darkness (Matthew 5:13-16), can and often do become a large part of the reason people reject the truths of God’s holy Word — Jesus Christ. What needs to happen, to prevent this? Two things.

First real Christians, true worshipers of Jesus Christ, need to stay focused on living out the truths of Scripture (Romans 6:4; Ephesians 4:1, 5:2; Colossians 2:6). Bible 9 They must be the salty preservative that Jesus has called them to be. If Christians don’t remain true to Christ’s statutes, then they run the risk of losing their saltiness and the world will decay at an even faster rate than it already is. Another part of being focused on the truths of Scripture is to reflect the light of truth, like the moon reflects the sun’s light to the earth at night. To obtain the truths of Christ from the Bible and not share them with others, is like hiding a lit candle under a bowl. No one can enjoy its warm glow, and all will remain in the dark. Not to mention that the bowl will eventually extinguish the light, as the flame burns up the oxygen.

Second, the world needs to stop judging Christianity by its members and look to its founder. This is easier said than done, but as Christians live up to their purpose, as they allow themselves to become the true worshipers God intended all people to be, then the world will have no choice but to see Christ in Christianity. They’ll finally begin to sense the preservative teachings of Jesus slowing down the decaying filth of their spirits. The world will finally be able to see the light of God’s truth shining into the darkest corners of their lives (Matthew 5:14).

The grace of Christ’s sacrifice can only be as affective as those who have already received it allow it to be. Hindus will not see the road less traveled unless the Christians light the way. If Christians continue to allow themselves to reject some of the teachings of Christ, and continue to choose to only follow some of the teachings of Christ, then their light will remain hidden and their spiritual growth will be minimal. Again, the grace of Christ’s sacrifice can only be as affective as those who have already received it allow it to be.

Muslims will never get beyond their “no-grace” mentality, and will continue down the destructive path of “jihad,” if Christians don’t shower them with grace. Only Christianity can sprinkle the salty preservative of Christ’s truths into their lives. Christ’s amazing grace can lead a Muslim to see that they can have an actual relationship with God, and they can do so without bringing destruction to their selves and others. God’s grace is sufficient, and we must live that truth.

Remember, if Jesus existed (and history proves He did) and was seen by all to be a good teacher (and all religions acknowledge this), then His truths must be realized and followed as God’s truth. Why? Because, anything less simply makes Jesus a liar, and a lunatic. Jesus has to be seen and heard as He is — the living breathing Word of God, incarnate. If any part of His message is truth, then all of His message is truth.

I’ll close with this last thought. Whether you claim to be a Christian, or not, if your faith is simply something you do. If your faith is nothing more than a religious right, then stop and ponder the cup of Christ. Jesus didn’t create you to be religious. Christ didn’t suffer and die for a pious philosophy. God’s son created you, lived as you, died for you, and conquered death — for you. True Christianity is not about religion; not at all. It’s about knowing and being known by the Creator of heaven and earth, Yahweh — the Lord, and savior, Jesus Christ. Listen to His call:

“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with Me. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with Me on My throne, just as I overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” (Revelation 3:20-22)

Truth or Dare by J. Scott Harden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://www.jasonmin.wordpress.com.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

The “NIV” and “New International Version” trademarks are registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by International Bible Society. Use of either trademark requires the permission of International Bible Society.

The Pilgrim’s Progress” (Reissue edition) © 2009 by John Bunyan

All rights reserved. Published by Oxford University Press, USA, 2001 Evans Rd., Cary, NC 27513; www.oup.com/us.

If your church or organization would like to talk with J. Scott Harden about a speaking engagement, or a writing project, please get in touch with Mr. Harden through Jason MinistriesTwitter account or Facebook page.

Article III, part 2


In part one of Article 3, we began discussing our attitude of worship. We came to understand that to have the right attitude of worship requires us to choose to prepare ourselves for and to choose to respond to God in worship.

We also disclosed the five orders of worship (confession, gathering, giving, rejoicing, and studying) and examined, in depth, the first of the five — the order of confession. We continue now with the second order of worship.

Gathering is an order that acknowledges God’s love for us and His delight in our relationships (fellowship) with each other and with Him. After all, God created us to be in fellowship with Him and each other. We will discuss this more in Article 5 when we examine our purpose more deeply, but the truth is that God created us for fellowship. That’s why restoring our relationship to Him was so important after man sinned in the garden of Eden. In fact, God talked with the Hebrews 53 times regarding fellowship in four of the first five books of the Bible (Exodus-Deuteronomy). Fellowship is discussed 96 times total from Genesis to Revelation. God needs for us to understand that “it is not good for man[kind] to be alone” (Genesis 2:18a). John tells us in chapter 3 verse 16 that “God so loved [desired fellowship with] the world [mankind] that He gave [sacrificed] His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him [Jesus Christ] shall not perish but have eternal life.” It’s this sacrifice that Christ made on the cross that enables us to have real and lasting relationships with each other and, most important, with our Creator. John later wrote:
We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. . . . If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. (1 John 1:3,7)

Giving is a special order of our worship as it builds our relationships with both God and each other. It teaches us about God’s peace and patience by removing our focus from self to a focus of service or sacrifice. In Proverbs chapter 18 verse 16 we see that “a gift opens the way for the giver and ushers him into the presence of the great.” I really like the way that reads. No matter the gift we choose to give; if the attitude is right, God will allow us into His holy presence. Our giving gets us an audience with the Almighty! This has nothing to do with our works, mind you, but it has everything to do with our hearts. A willingness to give of ourselves. Do you recall Paul’s words to the Ephesians concerning being saved by grace through faith, so that no man can boast in himself (Ephesians 2:8-9)? In the same way, whatever we may have to give we should give graciously as a result of our faith in Jesus Christ. Why? Because, as Paul also wrote in his letter to the Corinthians, “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart [by the prompting of the Holy Spirit] to give, not reluctantly [with doubt] or under compulsion [out of guilt or pressure], for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:7)

The order of rejoicing allows us to both give and receive God’s attribute of perfect joy. Deuteronomy chapter 12 verse 7 tells us, “In the presence of the Lord your God, you and your families shall eat and rejoice in everything you have put your hand to, because the Lord your God has blessed you.” The psalmist wrote in Psalm 118, verse 24, “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” In God’s presence we receive true joy, and as we said before, giving is what ushers us into God’s presence. No matter what we set our minds to do, if we give of ourselves joyfully, give thanks in any circumstances, we can rejoice knowing we are doing God’s will (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). After all, He made all things with this purpose in mind. (We will go deeper into what God’s joy is and how we can both obtain it and give it in Article 4.)

The final order will reveal to us the godly attributes of faithfulness and self-control; this order of worship is studying God’s Word. These famous words of the psalmist teach us clearly:
How can a young man [or woman] keep his way pure? [Remember we are called to be holy.] By living according to your word. I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. (Psalm 119: 9-11)

Studying God’s Word, the Bible, gives us the ability to live the holy lives God intended, making us the true worshipers we were purposed to be. Self-control is the path to being found faithful, and self-control is obtained through studying the Bible. Deuteronomy chapter 11 verses 18-21 remind us to “fix these words [of God’s] . . . in your hearts and minds. . . . Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home . . . so that your days and the days of your children may be many . . . as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth.”

Now that we have looked over these five orders of worship (confession, gathering, giving, rejoicing, and studying), let’s attempt to use them, as I said earlier, to prepare ourselves for worship individually, corporately as a family, or corporately as a church body and in response to God in our worship. We do this in three ways: physically, mentally, and spiritually. Recall from Article 1 that we can only become true worshipers of God if we remain faithful to the end (Matthew 24:5-13), serving God and each other with all our mind, body, and soul. Why? Because true worship requires our whole selves, and we are a three-part being made in God’s image (Genesis 1:27). Just as God is three parts in one (Father, Son, and Spirit) so too are we three parts in one — the physical, mental, and spiritual. Each part should be applied to the five orders of worship in some way. For example, we could physically and spiritually confess our sins (preparation for worship) and then physically and spiritually repent (respond to God in worship). Yet another example could be to mentally and physically plan to gather for worship (preparation) and then go (physically and mentally) engage in worship (response), and so on through the remaining orders of worship. Joshua was able to prepare for worship and respond to God in his worship in all the various aspects of his life, within this same manner: individually, corporately as a family, and corporately as a nation.

There were times when confession was needed, as in the story of Achan (Joshua 7), and so Israel prepared and responded accordingly. There were times when Joshua would gather the Israelites for corporate worship. In Joshua chapter 4 we read about the altar of remembrance built from twelve stones handpicked from the Jordan River to represent each one of the twelve tribes of Israel. Here we see Joshua planned with Israel and both responded together. He led the Israelites in giving fellowship offerings in chapter 8 verses 30-35 of the book of Joshua; both preparations were made and responses given. Rejoicing also takes place in many of Joshua’s stories; for example in the story of Jericho’s destruction, rejoicing in God played a key part in the Israelites winning that battle (Joshua 6). In this instance the planning was from the “commander of the army of the Lord” and Joshua and the Israelites responded faithfully. Finally, with regard to study, Joshua served under Moses while in the desert. Moses taught him on every aspect of the law God has entrusted him with. When Moses died, Joshua received the stone copies of God’s Ten Commandments. With this information, Joshua took charge of not just leading Israel but teaching them. In chapter 5 of the book of Joshua, he taught concerning the rite of circumcision; in chapter 8 he taught concerning fellowship offerings, and lessons continue throughout all twenty-four chapters.

In closing, let’s note once more that a right attitude of worship is an understanding that it is 10 percent God’s call in our lives and 90 percent how we will respond to His call in our lives. Let us also recall that an attitude of worship is ours to choose or reject. We must come to understand that to have the right attitude of worship requires both preparation for and a response to worship (attributes of God + preparing to acknowledge those attributes of God + acknowledgment of God’s attributes in us = true worship). Remember also the five orders of worship (confession, gathering, giving, rejoicing, and studying) which help us prepare for and respond to worship individually, corporately as a family, or corporately as a church body. And review with me the three ways in which we should prepare for and respond to worship: the physical, the mental, and the spiritual. These are a lot to consider; a lot to remember and apply, but oh so important to fulfilling God’s purpose in each of our lives.

Article 1 laid the foundation (example of a true worshiper); Article 2 set the cornerstone (the heart of worship); here we erected the first wall to our temple of worship (an attitude of worship). Now for the second — real joy!

The Joshua Project by J.Scott Harden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at jasonmin.wordpress.com.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at https://jasonmin.wordpress.com/.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

The “NIV” and “New International Version” trademarks are registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by International Bible Society. Use of either trademark requires the permission of International Bible Society.

If your church or organization would like to talk with J. Scott Harden about a speaking engagement, or a writing project, please get in touch with Mr. Harden through Jason MinistriesTwitter account or Facebook page.